Crisis Management


Here at Imagine Engineering we have extensive experience of crisis management, both on military operations and in pandemic response.

These very short videos are extracts from our workshops, and were developed during the COVID 19 crisis to help organisations struggling with rapid change. They are equally applicable for the business challenges, and responding to the climate crisis. Please feel free to use and share these free resources.

Escaping “Business as Usual”

In normal life our biases help us make sensible decisions, however, in a crisis they can make us slow and vulnerable. To respond to a crisis we must first escape “business as usual”, and we can only do this by addressing our biases.

Understand the real situation

In a crisis it is very easy to become overwhelmed. The “Three Column Format” is a tried and tested analysis technique which will allow you, and your team, to make sense of the chaos:

Understanding behaviour

Stressful situations can have a dramatic impact on the way people behave. As a leader it’s vital that you can recognise different types of behaviour in yourself and in others, so that you can move from “unhelpful obedience” to “helpful disobedience”.

Keep it simple

Leading during a crisis is complex and confusing. However, clarity of thought, honesty, and the use of simple language can protect others from the chaos. Making confusing situations simple will empower your team to do their jobs.

Identify what’s important

During a crisis it is vital to avoid wasting time and effort on nugatory tasks. By identifying the EFFECTS you need to achieve you can focus on what’s important, whilst empowering team members to innovate and take initiative.

Define your big idea

“If you can’t draw it – you don’t understand it”

In confusing situations, one of the most powerful tools at your disposal is to draw a simple picture. An “Intent Schematic” enables you to bring together Space, Time and Resources. You can test your concept and then use the schematic to communicate a common vision with your team.

Share information

In a crisis you will either have far too much information, or none at all!

An “intelligence cycle” will help you to take control of the chaos, enabling you to spot important information, and to share it with right people at the right time.

Communicaticate effectively

Effective communication is essential in a crisis, but is likely to become one of the fist victims of the chaos. The “six step” process provides the framework for you to ensure effective communication, and “open questions” are your superpower to verify understanding.

Adapt quickly (applying the OODA loop)

In a crisis, survival may depend upon how quickly you can adapt. The OODA Loop (Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action) sets out the cycle which allows you to adapt, giving you the best possible chance of succeeding in a crisis.

Get the best from everyone in your team (Applying Mission Command)

During a crisis it’s vital that you can get the best from everyone in your team. However, in order to feel in control of the chaos, the natural response of most leaders will be to tighten their grip. This direct form of control is often the wrong response, demoralising team members and inhibiting innovation.

“Mission Command” is a system of leadership which empowers everyone to use their initiative. This approach encourages rapid and appropriate decision making, creating teams which are more robust, responsive and resilient.

Maintain morale

Morale is the magic ingredient which enables people to endure hardship and continue to function in the most trying of circumstances. Good morale requires three foundations: this is important; this is possible; and you are being treated fairly.

During a crisis leaders should reinforce these three points at every opportunity.

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