Gearing up to be able to handle a crisis event part 2: Utilising your incident management system:

30 March 2020

Gearing up to be able to handle a crisis event part 2: Utilising your incident management system:

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In last week’s blog, Denis Treacy, head of Culture Compass Ltd, talked about the importance of having an incident management system in place in case a crisis should occur. This week he looks at how to put this into practice and the areas to consider.

The management of crisis and incidents

There are four key areas of capability which are fundamental to ensuring an organisation's management is properly structured and fit for purpose, with a key focus on that element I call CIM or the management of Crisis and Incidents.

Image - 4Energies – Strategy, Performance, Organisation & Culture

We must take every precaution and as much time and effort as is practicably possible in order to understand the risks and vulnerabilities, preparing a Business Continuity plan which enables escalation through non-conformance, from incident to crisis.

We will also examine in detail what success looks like for those elements that make it possible for businesses to recognise the risk, to be prepared and deliver organisational resilience.

Integrated systems and data - timelines, and traceability

Having a clean and instant grasp on the data is the single most critical element of managing any condition or event. Decisions are made on the strength of the information available. We will explore roles, responsibilities and expectations of timely delivery of the absolute facts. All too frequently tasks are given to the wrong people, resulting in the need to delay decisions, or worse - revise the details of a product recall, with further product codes or batch dates.

Incident and crisis

Something that needs to be in place is the ability to competently define when a situation needs to be managed as a crisis rather than an incident, what the difference is and how this can be prepared. If resource is applied disproportionately, the organisation may end up with senior leaders managing incidents or junior managers leading a crisis.

Event or condition

Understanding the critical difference between an incident brought about by an event and an incident brought about by a deteriorating condition is important. The situation, investigation, conclusions and decisions may be very different for both.

Where are the vulnerabilities?

Questions that need to be asked include where an issue is most likely to come from, how to explore that and what could be done to prepare. Here are a few examples of issues:

  • Change - Change - Change
  • Raw materials supply - crop failures, administration, equipment failure
  • Manufacturing and supply chain issues
  • Epidemic, pandemic, industrial action, loss of services
  • Geopolitical events - Brexit, regime change, legislation change
  • Protest group and NGO targeting, social media event

Crisis team and training

The assumption that the nature of the crisis determines who leads it is not always the most practical solution. The organisation should invest in competencey in issues management at the core, together with the support of functional expertise when appropriate.

The whole of a leadership team does not need to be trained to manage an incident or crisis - but a core team ABSOLUTELY does. They need to consider that potential insurers and customers may need to be engaged at an early stage and will demand minute by minute information, potentially disturbing the process flow of a strong and competent crisis team.

Reflect, review, follow up

The process following an incident is as critical as managing the incident itself. A crisis is a testament to an undetected or unplanned event, which distracts from the business focus, impacts profit, ties up vital resources and potentially puts the brands at risk. Gaps must be closed and made fail-safe.

The culture compass ltd systemisation of behaviour embeds the CIM process into a routine to force consistent application, enabling the understanding of risks and the proportionate management of potential and existing crises.

Based on the theory that you are more likely to get what you inspect than what you expect, a successful business culture will always be based on the repeatability of behaviour, but that behaviour has to be seen in evidence.

GOYA is an operating principle developed by culture compass ltd to drive engagement at all levels and more importantly, to make that visible, with practitioners at every level and throughout the organisation.

This sees a defined, structured and integrated approach to internal challenge. It gives recognition and reward for positive behaviours and energies applied to those elements which remove and reduce risk and therefore sustain and strengthen the predictability of critical business fundamentals. These include food safety, health and safety, incident & crisis management, through participation at every level, resulting in a robust incident management system.

If you would like to discuss incident management or using an incident management system further, get in touch with myself or with someone from the Ideagen Team.



Denis Treacy
Written by

Denis Treacy

Denis Treacy, now head of Culture Compass Ltd, is well known throughout the food industry as an engaging, driven and decisive executive leader with 40 years of FMCG industry experience, the first 10 years in scientific roles, the last 30 years at management, leadership, executive chief officer & president level.

After early roles in Unilever, Arla Foods & InBev, Denis was until very recently, president & chief safety, quality, security & environment officer for the $5bn global snack foods business Pladis Global. Denis now heads Culture Compass Ltd, which serves to help businesses step change performance by understanding the links between policies, organisation and performance, but through the critical element of culture and behaviour.

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