October 17, 2012

Crisis Management: Stop Putting Out Fires

I frequently hear “I try to plan my day but instead I end up moving from crisis to crisis putting out fires.”  These folks are frustrated and exhausted from the effort of “fixing” things when they go wrong and not having time to accomplish the items on their to-do lists.

Quite often when asked to describe the crisis we can trace it back to the point of possibily preventing it from ever happening.  Here are a few simple examples:
  • Running out of gas – When do you fill the gas tank?  When the gauge says E and you have to search for a gas station when you are late?  Or when it shows a half or quarter?
  • Power goes out – Do you have an emergency kit with a flashlight located in key rooms?
  • Missing a flight – When did you pack?  That day or several days before?  Did you use a list so nothing was forgotten?  When did you leave for the airport? 
  • A key contributor leaves – Do you have a formal succession plan in place to easily fill vacancies or do you now have to undergo a long search leaving this key position vacant?
As you can see planning and avoiding procrastination are keys in helping to prevent crises. Crisis management is constantly considering Murphy ’s Law Anything that can go wrong will go wrong."  By planning for all the things that can go wrong, when we get a visit from Mr. Murphy we are prepared.  Some people never plan for a crisis considering it a waste of time because they might be planning for something that never happens.  The key is to consider the large amount of time, energy and money spent if it does go wrong and the impact on your health, stress level and maybe even your career. 
We cannot prevent every crisis but we can be prepared if a crisis occurs. Every organization should consider implementing an Emergency Response Plan which considers all possible natural and human disaster that may impact their specific industry and geographic area.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides sample plans. 
We can use these same concepts in our personal life considering what we might face in such areas as our finances by saving for our children’s college and our retirement; maintaining and monitoring our health for disease prevention; considering the area of the country where we live and prepare for the natural disasters might occur.
Consider this quote from President John F. Kennedy: “When written in Chinese, the word "crisis" is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.   Why not take the opportunity today to prevent and prepare for the dangers that might impact your business and family?