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Proactive Crisis Management: Expecting the Unexpected

Author(s): Andrew MacDougall, Lawrence E. Ritchie

Apr 26, 2017

A crisis can strike at any time. Businesses must be prepared to proactively manage a crisis situation or risk being exposed to financial and reputational damages. For enterprises, having a plan in place to strategically respond to business critical situations is key to effectively anticipating and managing the potential fallout. Here are some tips on proactive crisis management.

Building Blocks to a Crisis Response Plan

  1. Identify your team
  2. Develop internal & external communication plan
  3. Conduct internal investigation
  4. Engage with regulatory – voluntary
  5. Engage with regulator – search & seizure
  6. Anticipate & manage other fallout
  7. Up-the-ladder reporting

During a crisis

The needs of the board

  • Regular and timely reporting
  • Clear understanding of PR strategy and their role
  • Quantification of exposure
  • One point of contact
  • Separate legal representation (if applicable)
  • A clear statement of the questions they need to decide

Support for legal

  • Monitor the process – What went well?
  • Determine facts and root causes of the event
  • Is this our incident?
  • Internal policy duties, compliance and insurance
  • Legal – privilege, records management, contractual obligations
  • Review and input on communications


  • Communications Strategy – top to bottom of the organization
  • Stakeholder messages
  • Public reputation management
  • Determine risk and assess responsibility
  • Determine corrective actions
  • Prepare report and share learnings

Preparing for a crisis effectively starts by proactively developing a culture…

of Compliance

  1. Develop procedures to prevent and detect illegal activity
  2. Mandatory training about procedures and protocols, and consequences of non compliance
  3. Defined confidential reporting system
  4. Appropriate incentives and disciplinary measures
  5. Continue improvement through periodic testing and review

of Preparedness

Being comfortable with your organization’s crisis response plan will allow you to respond effectively to a crisis or any other extraordinary conditions:

  1. Systematic approach
  2. De-escalate
  3. Timeline decisions
  4. Clear thinking
  5. Leverage trusted experts

Best practices:

  1. Test your crisis response plan
  2. Review the results
  3. Improve your plan

Download PDF: Proactive Crisis Management: Expecting the Unexpected