You may have heard me say this before: crisis simulations are not trainings. Simulations are great exercises to identify gaps for improvement. Participants may get tangential experience through artificially applied heat and time pressure. But do simulation participants emerge as better crisis managers? Probably not.
Trainings, when done well, are customized improvement labs. Covering each component of a crisis management capability requires different modules of training….
101-LEVEL TACTICAL TRAINING: These modules are essential for basics in crisis management. They include plan orientations, crisis-team alignment and crisis-specific communications training. Plan orientations ensure comprehension of written crisis management protocols. Crisis-team alignment eliminates overlap of cross-functional responsibilities. Media trainings help interviewed spokespeople create responsible impressions for the organization. “Online dialogue” trainings have also become common since organizations are increasingly interfacing with key publics through social networks – communicating through blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and other related technologies.
201-LEVEL STRATEGIC WORKSHOPS: Some organizations have great crisis plans and teams in place, but lack the ability to goal-set and align strategies in a crisis. This requires an elevated level of training, typically in a classroom-style setting. It is common for these workshops to include role-play to give participants greater appreciation for the expectations of many key audiences (and key critics).
301-LEVEL LEADERSHIP PROGRAMMING: Ultimately, crisis plans help leaders determine a successful path through a crisis. Building top-flight crisis leaders requires a deep analysis of the effective crisis management mindset. These training programs are rare, but exceptionally valuable for individuals with top responsibility to manage an organization’s crises.
In summary, there are plenty of seminars that provide checklists on the “top 20 things you need to do in a crisis.” I am wary of those programs as standalones because, in my experience, most of those rules can get challenged once you weigh all the unique factors of each crisis you manage. Perhaps those “golden rules” seminars and checklists may be better positioned as primers for additional crisis management study through a customized approach.