With the global pandemic crisis, companies started to form their crisis management teams in order to react mindfully to the situation. These initiatives made me remember my challenging crisis management experience and wanted to start sharing my learnings out of it. Hope that it would resonate with you and create some value.
I was a critical member of a crisis management team a while ago. It was a crisis not only affecting the four plants with 2000 employees in Turkey Operations, but also our global company worldwide. The crisis in the company -which was the leading manufacturer of special packaging products- had a huge impact also in the related specific industry, including worldwide supplier and customer-chain.
Our crisis management team was not a classical one, but also an agile one. When I look backwards, when we were even not aware of what ‘Agile’ means, which ingredients made us so Agile during that time?
- Due to the emerging, urgent need; the team quickly formed around a common purpose.
- We have defined the competencies that needed in this team, gathered the external and internal team members (global corporate communication, CEO, supplier director, external consultants, law firm) accordingly and we were not more than 10 people.
- We have made up our team contract. In crisis environments, it is not easy to set-up open communications and build trust, even within the crisis management team members. We managed that as some members - like me - internalized this ‘trust builder’, ‘informer’ inner roles to connect which improved alignment continuously and transparently.
- We have used secure, confidential and instant communication/messaging tools to inform instantly each other about every new information. Everybody was using their strengths. Some of the team members were playing the role of ‘coordination’ unconsciously. Some were making the public speeches. But we all helped each other to end the crisis as soon as possible.
- We were running sprints. But sprints were not weekly. They were daily and sometimes hourly, momentary sprints.
- We have mapped our situation carefully: We defined our stakeholders internally (employees, union representatives, different plants) and externally (media, stock market, suppliers, customers, government authorities, employee union, law firm). In addition to this stakeholder mapping, we also defined which possible risks they carry from two sides of the medallion: Because they might be affected from the situation, but on the other side they could also create additional risks to worsen the crisis if the necessary cautions would not be forecasted and managed.
- Emotions were welcome. Frustration, fear, anger. Every emotion is for people, even for CEOs and general managers. Let team members acknowledge this.
In a crisis conjuncture, the stakeholders and the environment can be so complex and even chaotic. There are multiple variables that you have no control on. Everything is blur and it is not easy to react properly within this situation.
When I think which main ingredients made our crisis management team successful, I come up that we leaned on each other and our values.
I learned a lot from that very challenging experience. I still keep in my mind these values on all our Agile projects:
- People first,
- React with good intentions,
- Be as transparent as possible.
- Stay on Agile mindset even in a bad situation and ask to yourself: ‘what can we learn from this situation?’, ‘what is possible now?’ ‘what are our choices?’…
An Agile crisis management team is the heart of a successful crisis management.
We are currently in a global pandemic crisis where the Future of Work will change deeply, sooner than we think. Some organizations will die, some continue and some even become bigger. And the performance of crisis management team will affect your company’s destiny…
Wish you safe days while sailing on strong crisis waves…
Sebnem Gurun Ozeren