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Crisis Management Exercising

When life imitates a crisis exercise

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What would you do if you could predict the future?

Some people say they would go to the racetrack and make their fortune. Others with a more altruistic bent say they would use their super power to avert tragedy or mayhem.

We don’t have a crystal ball at RiskLogic, but because we run over 200 crisis and business continuity exercises a year, we do spend a lot of time looking into the future and have become very accurate at anticipating disaster (see examples below).

Four times a week we stress test an executive team somewhere in Australia, New Zealand or around the world.

To come up with the exercise scenarios, we collaborate closely with our clients to review their risk register, look at trends in their industry and analyse domestic and international events.

Our primary objective is to make the exercises as realistic as possible. We develop scenarios where the likelihood and the consequences combine to keep their CEOs and Boards awake at night.

Given the amount of risk data that we’re privileged to have access to, it is not a total surprise that these hypothetical scenarios often eventuate in real life, sometimes just days or weeks after we have run the exercise.

It is a constant reminder that crisis events and major business disruptions are “a question of when, not if”.

Here are a few examples of exercises we have run recently that have quickly turned to reality.

Client: Horticulture producer, Vic
Exercise scenario: multiple bushfires on a Code Red day that threatened their large-scale orchard and production facility.
Reality: two weeks later a bushfire started just a couple of kilometres from the scenario ignition site, on the region’s second ever Code Red day.

Client: Major Australian port operator
Exercise scenario: a large container ship running into a dock in strong winds, causing a large container crane to collapse.
Reality: just four days later in Antwerp, a large container ship broke it’s mooring in strong winds, striking a crane and causing it to collapse. The dramatic footage can be found here.

Client: A major shopping centre
Exercise scenario: a CBD lockdown as active shooters took lives and hostages in a terrorist attack in the heart of Sydney.
Reality: two months later, parts of the Sydney CBD were locked down as a man went on a knife rampage, stabbing a woman and terrorising city workers.

Client: Unnamed
Exercise scenario: a senior staff member arrested and charged on fraud charges, causing major reputational damage.
Reality: six months later, a senior staff member was arrested and charged, creating significant logistical and HR challenges and adverse media coverage.

It goes without saying that our clients were extremely well prepared to handle these highly volatile issues.

They were smart. They set aside just three hours in their year to test drive a crisis and build their capability and confidence before they faced the real thing.

Investing in organisational resilience is good for your business and your people. So to avoid being caught out, get on the front foot and book in a crisis or business continuity exercise for 2020.

The Resilience Digest