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Crafting Your Own Typology

Crafting Your Own Typology
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So how do you make practical sense of the material we’ve covered in this module? Well, let’s spend a few minutes taking what you’ve learned and crafting a custom typology for your organization. We’re not going to strive for perfection here on your first attempt at developing a technology. But as the information in this module is still somewhat fresh in your mind, let’s consider this a brainstorming session in route to a version point five or so of our first formal typology for your organization. Let’s give this a try. First, you’ll want a list of the stakeholder groups that have an interest in or draw value from your company or unit. You should already have this list on hand from an earlier exercise.
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Pause here for a moment to collect your stakeholder list. If you have not created a list of company stakeholders, you’ll want to do so now. Take as long as you need, then return to this video for the next step in our process. Step 2, refer to the various list of crises types that were shared in this module and create a hybrid list that illustrates the collection of crises varieties that you believe might threaten the value propositions of your stakeholders in the future. Each of the list shared in this module had a slightly different frame, but there was also quite a bit of overlap.
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Skim through the examples presented in this module and craft your own list of five to 10 crisis types that your organization may have to resolve. Keep in mind that while most specific crises types impact multiple stakeholder groups, a particular type only has to impact one significantly to be considered worthy of inclusion on your list. So you’re charged for this step, pause here to review the list of crises presented in this module, craft a list of five to 10 crises types most likely to occur at your organization. You should already have the beginnings of such a list in your notes or your workbook from previous exercises.
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But if you don’t or you’d like to start fresh from scratch to create such a list, take some time to do so now. Then come back to this video and move on to step three.
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Welcome back, before we move on to step 3, keep your list of crises types close by, but set it aside for now. You’ll come back to it a little later. Step 3, consider the collection of dimensions that we’ve examined throughout this module. For your convenience, I’ll review what I consider to be a useful subset of these dimensions here. As I share each of these with you, what do your instincts tell you about its utility? Do you think that it could be useful for organizing crises types by various levels or opposite extremes of that particular dimension? Again, I’m not looking for exact science here.
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I just like you to take a crack at narrowing down the extensive list of options we explored in this module to a smaller subset that might serve your crises organization needs in the future. Here are some of the dimensions that you might find useful. Cause- Man-made vs Natural. Cause- Internal vs External. Probability- from Very Likely to Not Likely at All. Predictability- from Hard to Easy to Predict. Cost- from Potentially Very Expensive to Very Inexpensive. Controllability- from Hard to Easy to Control. Attribution of Responsibility- from Completely Beyond our Control to Entirely our Fault. Safety Impact- Major Injury or Fatality to No or Only Minor Injuries. And finally, Level of Action- from a Single Actor to a Supranational group like the EU.
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Did you identify any dimensions that seem useful given the organization you’re using to frame your choices? Step 4, find the list you created in step 2. Now, referring to your list, would it be helpful to further subdivide this list using one or two of the dimensions you identified in step 3? Given our work in this module, it probably makes sense to do so. Having another dimension or two to help us more accurately organize crises scenarios will ultimately help us develop more effective response strategies. It’s also possible that, at this point, you’d prefer to abandon your categorical list all together, that list of specific crises types, and create a matrix out of one or two or perhaps even three dimensions.
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If this is your preference, when you move on to step 5 with your matrix, keep the list you created earlier as these categorical items will provide specific cases that you should be able to place somewhere on your matrix. Step 5, as an ultimate step, let’s formalize your crisis typology. If you decided that a list was good enough as a starting point, so be it. You’ll now have a list and can use it to begin some crisis response planning. If you’ve decided to abandon your categorical list and instead create your own matrix out of one two or three dimensions, then prepare a graphic or a collection of summary statements that describes your dimensions and the different options for each dimensional characteristic.
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It’s also possible that you’ve decided to keep your categorical list of crises types and that you’ve elected to add a dimension or to further differentiate crises scenarios. For example, you may really like your categorical list. But you’ve recognized that by adding an option a and an option b to each item, you’d be able to draw an important distinction between different scenarios. For example, you may want to differentiate between cases that include a fatality, which could be option a from cases that don’t have a fatality or serious injury, which could be option b. You could use any of the characteristics I mentioned earlier to further define your typology.
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Okay, with all of that said, I recognize that you may now be thinking, wow, Professor Barger, this is all feeling really complicated. Fair enough, it’s not my intention to over engineer this exercise. You will find as you move on to versions 2.0 and 3.0 of your typology that you may want a little more specificity in your typology than a simple list of different categories. Don’t overcomplicate things at this point. If you’ve already decided to take the additional step of adding a dimension or two to your categorical list, that’s great. if not, that’s perfectly fine as well.
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The outcome of your efforts here are simply meant to be a starting point that will evolve as you begin to work with other leaders at your organization. Step 6, as a final step in our process, you’ll find it useful at this point to complete two additional activities, each of which will allow you to test the utility of your typology. First, if you created a multi-dimensional matrix without using the list of crises types you created earlier, you should see if you can plot each of your crises types somewhere within your matrix. This would serve as a litmus test for its validity.
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If an item from your list can’t be represented in some quadrant of your matrix, perhaps your matrix doesn’t account for all of the crises variation you need it to. Second, you might consider your stakeholders one group at a time and work your way through each item on your categorical list. Or through each quadrant of your matrix in an effort to define how each item or quadrant would impact each of your stakeholders. For example, if you consider your customer group and then step through each item on your crisis list or alternatively, through each quadrant in your one two or three dimensional matrix, you’d be able to identify in which cases.
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And perhaps, even to what extent your customer group would be impacted by this type of crisis. This sort of exercise will make it much easier for you to develop specific crisis responses for a collection of well-defined scenarios. That’s it, you now have your own customized crisis typology. Nice work, I hope you found this exercise really helpful. If you’ve taken the time to complete a typology of your own, you’re well on your way to not only understanding the various ways the critical dimensions of a crisis could impact your organization. But you’ve also taken a significant step toward being able to construct basic crisis response plans that you’ll almost certainly require when you find yourself in a future high stakes leadership scenario.
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High Stakes Leadership: Leading in Times of Crisis

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