The place of research in crisis management
By Abiola Olaonipekun
Crisis management involves dealing with threats before, during, and after they have occurred. It is a discipline within the broader context of management consisting of skills and techniques required to identify, assess, understand, and cope with a serious situation, especially from the moment it first occurs to the point that recovery procedures start. But how does research come into crisis management?
Research as we know is the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and arrive at new conclusions. Crisis management on the other hand can be described as a process by which an organization deals with a major event that threatens to harm the organization, its stakeholders or corporate existence. To examine the role of research in crisis management, it is important to note that there are three elements common to any crisis. These are:
- Danger/threat to the publics or organization
- element of surprise
- a very short decision making time
When a crisis occurs, there is a high tendency to jump into conclusion and line of action without proper investigation into all the surrounding dynamics. The research and communications unit should work in proximity to ensure a seamless deployment of action. So, when next there is a crisis (not that we are praying for one), these steps below will come in handy:
Data collection: Get all your facts together - the cause (s) of the crisis, the people affected, the effect on your organisation as well as your stakeholders; financial implication and reputational damage etc. Identify how similar crisis was handled by other organisations in the past and their channels of communication.
Data analysis: Analyze the information gathered with your team. You will also analyze the parameters and effect on your stakeholders. Based on the analysis, determine likely results, effect and options with the team. This will help you strike out least favourable options.
Recommendations: Based on your discussion, make recommendations for your organisation or client. In your recommendation, list plan of actions, mode of communication and ensure uniformity among members of staff.
Learning and reflection: When the crisis is over, reflect on the actions taken. There will be a slight difference in how you planned it and how it eventually unfolds. Document the process and let it serve as a lesson learning experience.
The list above is not exhaustive but it will help you through any crisis. According to Dr. Walter Lindenmann,”When facing a sudden and unexpected crisis, research puts the issues involved into proper perspective through emergency monitoring or polling.”