Training is key to succeeding in a crisis


Organisations that don’t test their crisis communications plans are wasting money, writes SenateSHJ Partner Raphael Hilbron

America’s Cup sailors Peter Burling, Jimmy Spithill and Ben Ainslie know a thing or two about winning races.

They also know the amount of planning and training needed to win under pressure.

Sadly, the same can’t be said for many business leaders who don’t plan or train for a crisis.

In SenateSHJ’s recent study of reputation risk – Reputation Reality – only 25% of Australian and 33% of New Zealand executives felt confident of their ability to manage communications in a crisis.

Confidence can only be gained through building organisational capability. A key part of this is training– a lesson encapsulated by 19th Century Prussian Army leader Helmuth von Moltke who said: “No battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy.”

The key is to train regularly and relentlessly – a habit of all winning sports people. To do otherwise is a recipe for failure.

Other salutatory lessons from SenateSHJ’s fifth study of reputation risk include a unanimous view of reputation as a primary asset, which is subject to increasing risks, like data privacy and cyber threats, which are getting harder to manage.

Boards and senior executives know they need to invest more to get on top of these risks, which includes good systems and processes as well as training, so they can make good decisions under pressure.

In our experience, leaders who plan and train properly are much better equipped to navigate the emerging and challenging internal and external risk environment. The alternative is a “hit and hope” approach, that doesn’t end well.

Click here to see Raphael discuss Reputation Reality and the importance of training for a crisis.