In addition to seeing what we can learn from the biggest issues of year, at Kith, we also like to conduct an annual review of our own writing. This is a good opportunity for us to reassess our thinking and to make sure that our core values and beliefs are properly reflected in our writing.
I wanted to share these with you as an end-of-year recap of our critical ideas and most important pieces from 2018. If you are a regular reader of the blog, this will serve as an end-of-year wrap up of the blog, but if you are just discovering us for the first time, this is a Cliff Notes version of our key idea from 2018 (and welcome!).
There are four big elements that I believe are key to success in a critical moment or crisis: leadership; planning; training; and the response itself. These are the themes that consistently run through our posts so I have divided the ‘highlights’ up by theme.
The leadership, character, behaviour and mindset of the CEO, are critical to success in a crisis. A good CEO is the embodiment of the company’s values and beliefs and the tone that they set at the top, permeates the whole firm.
This year we looked at how an unprepared CEO can be the weakest link in your response or, conversely, with preparation, confidence and some introspection, the strongest. We also looked at how when it comes to the company’s ethical behaviour, that without a strong example at the top of the organization, a company will struggle to behave properly.
Finally, the thread that has run through all of our posts this year is the need for a new mindset and approach to crisis management, a mindset and approach that begins at the top.
Planning is a double-edged weapon when it comes to a crisis. Good, thoughtful planning, risk analysis and studying previous events will help you develop superior pattern recognition and enhance your ability see around corners.
On the other hand, an over-reliance on pre-built plans, ominously lined up as a series of white binders, will stifle creativity and leave you unable to respond to the specific incident in hand, possibly even overlooking key stakeholders. This kind of planning and developing an understanding of crisis is also what will allow a communicator to develop the confidence and skills to be able to speak truth to power and to deliver confident, thoughtful advice to the CEO and senior leadership.
We are firm believers that training, especially realistic simulations, are a key to success. Without the development of the organizational ‘muscle-memory’ required to respond, a critical moment or crisis can paralyze your team. This kind of realistic training is also the closest you can get to a real crisis in order to discover how people will really behave. Remember, a crisis doesn’t develop your leadership, it reveals it.
Moreover, training also allows you to respond more quickly which is key to developing the speed of trust you need to be successful in a crisis and to move from a reactive to a proactive stance. However, crisis response is not all about skills development. We also see the need to balance the softer skills – developing a crisis EQ – alongside the harder, technical skills we call the crisis IQ.
To me, this is the nuts and bolts tactics of the response and are actually some of the harder to write. Not because we lack the expertise, but rather because these are often very situation-specific. This year we tried to focus on the detailed ‘how tos’ or answer the specific questions we get from clients and via enquiries.
We looked at who how to engage with and think about social media in a crisis and we addressed difficulties – and how to overcome them – of saying sorry when things go wrong. We also looked at some practical elements to consider during the response such as the need to avoid departmental silos and how risk whisperers can help coordinate the flow of information.
Looking back, it has been a busy year at Kith. In addition to our hours sitting shoulder to shoulder with clients in training and while facing real events, we have had a chance to take our learnings and codify these in our blogs posts and webinars. I’m looking forward to exploring these four themes – leadership; planning; training; and the response itself – in more detail in 2019 and look forward to engaging with you in the comments sections, on webinars and hopefully in person.
Meanwhile, Happy New Year and we at Kith wish you a safe and prosperous 2019!