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Module 5 Summary

Module 5 Summary

Congratulations on your completion of this module on Crisis Varieties and Responses. Well done!

Throughout this module, you have been introduced to the idea that different crisis types will impact stakeholders in different ways, requiring unique consideration and responses from the high stakes leadership team. These ideas probably weren’t that surprising to you, but perhaps you hadn’t given them much thought previously. Most organizations, in fact, don’t give these enough thought. They find themselves in the midst of a crisis, scrambling: to find, assess, and react to incoming information; to define an ad hoc crisis management process; to assign responsibilities to a previously undefined and untrained team of crisis managers; and to implement, on the fly, an effective crisis response. The moral of this module is to not allow your organization to find itself in this position. Even the most basic of crisis response brainstorming will begin to help leaders at your organization realize the value of crisis pre-planning and preparation.

A key objective of this module was to illustrate a broad range of potential crisis varieties and how each could create a unique set of challenges for an organization. At this point, it should be clear how difficult these crises would be to prevent, without a dedicated and coordinated effort from the enterprise as a whole, or to effectively manage, without some level of pre-crisis planning. The typologies you learned about in this module were not simply instruments for illustrating the spectrum of challenging scenarios you may have to face as a high stakes leader, they were provided as an introduction to a planning methodology that could be used to help your organization to significantly increase its readiness for future threats. You should consider the typology you created in the previous activity as a tool that informs an initial conversation with leaders at your organization on the topic of crisis readiness. For each of the items on your list – a list, by the way, that you have created because you felt as though there is some degree of potential for such crises to appear at your enterprise – your team could have a very high level conversation focused on a single question: “What would we do if we were faced with this type of crisis at our organization tomorrow?” Indeed, this question would stimulate a broad range of responses. Some leaders will fully acknowledge your organization’s lack of readiness and embrace the opportunity to improve in this area. If your organization already has some or a great many crisis prevention and management practices in place, the question will provide an opportunity to celebrate earlier efforts and find ways to update or improve existing practices. Other leaders will want to question the items on your list, perhaps dismissing many of them as “not going to happen here” or “we have more important things to worry about.” Don’t be discouraged. The most important outcome of your conversation is getting the members of your team to begin to think, collectively, about crisis readiness.

In time, your leaders will begin to embrace the notion of a crisis being an unavoidable chapter in the organization’s future. Perhaps a silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic, all due consideration, of course, to the tragic impact and loss of life caused by this crisis, is the recognition that crises can come from sources we hadn’t ever considered – and that without some degree of preparedness, our chances of managing them effectively are quite low. Your typology will give you and your colleagues a framework for some very healthy and important initial conversations.

You should also share with your colleagues that your typology will not only help you think through crisis preparedness at your organization. It can help you assess your current crisis prevention practices. “For this type of potential crisis”, you might offer to your team, “what are we doing to look for early signs of trouble?” “How might our current practices expose us in this area?” “Should we make a few changes that could decrease our exposure?” These are all great questions for high stakes leaders to consider. Now that you have an early version of a typology, you have enough specificity to sufficiently focus your discussions.

From here in this course, you will shift gears a bit and begin to think about crisis leadership. In fact, the next two modules explore aspects of this topic that will help you become a much more effective high stakes leader. In the next module, you will explore the Nature of the Crisis Environment. What you will find is that there are very few situations where leaders will be more challenged, more frustrated, more anxious, and less prepared, than during a crisis. You will be given some tools to help you manage this environment the best that you can.

Thank you for spending time working through the creation of a crisis typology. You will find this an incredibly useful tool in your high stakes leadership toolkit.

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High Stakes Leadership: Leading in Times of Crisis

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