Every company must have these in its tool chest

We’ve all seen our share of mass disaster TV and movie dramas focused on hospitals or calamitous accident scenes. When the unexpected happens, the heroic medical and first responders are all involved in rendering assistance to initiate appropriate triage protocols; the immediate object is to determine what aid is needed in order of seriousness to prevent the threat of death and further injuries and harm.

Every business, no matter its size, must have in place a similar protocol when trouble strikes. The basic tools for businesses are Band-Aids, tourniquets and a quarterback, all of which are figuratively needed to alleviate and reduce the damage and subsequent interruptions.

Some issues only require applying Band-Aids, knowing that not much more is needed to return to normalcy and get back to business as usual. For example, when the power goes off, the Band-Aid is an on-premises emergency generator that kicks on until regular service is restored.

These run-of-the-mill Band-Aids are frequently used, and no one gives it a second thought because a convention or tools are in place to resolve the situation with little, if any, drama.

When a more challenging and significant issue impairs continuing operations, or an emergency arises, such as today’s omnipresent threats of mass casualties, companies must be ready to respond concomitantly as the event unfolds. This requires preplanning, rehearsal and practiced protocols so no one is guessing what to do next to stem the problem.

When either minor or major disruption occurs, by far, what is most important is that a company has previously designated a quarterback who calls the shots and has the authority to make split-second decisions, particularly in dire situations. This takes communications beforehand to ensure everyone in the organization is aware, as there is no time for a power struggle or employees guessing who’s the boss.

First and foremost, whatever the circumstance, the issue must be controlled to minimize more severe damage.

The next step, once the event is at least controlled, is management must determine what is the short-term/intermediate resolution. Typically, with major problems, a total solution may not be in the company’s toolbox. In the direst situations, the fix must be flushed out. That means after using what is at hand to stop the bleeding in order for operations to resume, even under a cloud of uncertainty, the focus must turn to the longer-term.

Temporary fixes must be recognized for what they are and that is mitigating damage and ensuring continuity. Even though  things are stabilized, the entire team must go on a fast track to find a permanent fix — but not too fast because without understanding all aspects of what caused the problem, unless a company is incredibly lucky, it could recur and the next time, the outcome could be worse. Sometimes a temporary fix can evolve into a permanent solution with further study and modifications.

Happy endings in the movies and real-life business occur when everybody knows what to do when issues arise out of the blue. It all gets down, as it usually does, to management, leadership, and training personnel to react properly when lightning strikes, hoping to prevent the worst while working smart to achieve the best outcome.

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Michael Feuer

Founder and CEO