Businesses face an increasing number of critical events, from climate-related natural disasters to cybercrime, from terrorism to internal sabotage. Savvy organisations have a clear understanding of vulnerabilities they are exposed to and define specific processes to react quickly if these turn into an actual crisis. Regular training sessions are given to crisis teams to consolidate their awareness and preparation.

Although this approach works well, we need to acknowledge there is a significant limit, as it focuses only on known risks, that were previously identified and mapped. It does not necessarily include the so-called asymmetric events, which have a low probability of happening and would require substantial preparation costs but would cause immense damages and destruction if coming true. What if one of those completely unexpected situations arises? Would the crisis response be effective as well?

It’s a wild guess to be taken, but there two things that might mitigate such a risk and improve the organisation’s resilience. First, the availability of a reliable crisis event monitoring and notification tool. It is vital to support business continuity teams in tracking critical occurrences, filter fake crisis, geolocalise events and guide a systematic, well-organised crisis response, minimising the impact on people, assets, and business operations.

Second, recognising that no preventative system is perfect, let be inspired by the crisis management system used in the United Kingdom at government level. In the UK, as well as in other Commonwealth countries, incidents are managed by a Strategic, Tactical, Operational (STO) structure: each crisis episode is assigned to one Strategic Commander, one Tactical Commander and several Operational Commanders to fulfil actions according to specific geographic or functional responsibilities.

Politics is, of course, engaged. Senior elected officials and selected policymakers join what is often referred to as the COBRA group, as they meet in the Cabinet Officer Briefing Room A, located in Whitehall near to 10 Downing Street. The STO structure and the COBRA group work independently but in close coordination thanks to designated senior members acting as a formal liaison and facilitating information sharing between the two.

This model enables political leaders to have accurate and timely input from operations while ensuring that they do not try to run it. The strategic team members receive valuable feedback about the political impact of their decisions while remaining primarily concentrated on crisis resolution.

In the business world, the crisis team is the equivalent of the STO structure, and the executive board is like the COBRA group. Would you apply this model to your organisation? Ask Kriu’s business continuity experts for suggestions!