All of us, as I write this morning, are still numb from the horrific effects of Hurricane Katrina that hit the Gulf States this past week.
Professors, pundits and politicians will write forests of words on this for years to come. What went wrong? Why were we so unprepared? What lessons can we learn?
The Crisis Bucket, as I call it, is rarely addressed in nonprofits and churches. There are natural disasters: hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, floods, snowstorms and more much.
And then there’s another kind of crisis or disaster that hits below the belt in most organizations: moral failures, terminations, embezzlement, lawsuits, media focus on inappropriate activity, deaths, tragic accidents, financial crises and more. The potential list is immense. Sooner or later, a crisis will knock you flat.
So it’s prudent to address the Crisis Bucket up front. Be prepared. There are procedures and protections common to all crises.
World Vision (www.worldvision.org) has an “Emergency Response and Disaster Mitigation” (ERDM) team. Randy Strash is WV’s strategy director of the ERDM team. Read the interview with Strash in the August 2005 issue of Christian Management Report magazine, “We’ve Got an Emergency: Essential Lessons Every Manager Needs to Learn Before a Crisis Hits.” It’s the inside story of how WV responded to the tsunami disaster. Go to www.CMAonline.org for the article.
Strash says that ERDM team members carry a wallet-size, laminated card with instructions on what to do when disaster strikes. The card has five points (with details):
5 Essential Steps…
…during the first 24 hours following a disaster:
1) Activate the National Rapid Response Team
2) Send Initial Alert Communication
3) Mobilize the Initial Evaluation Process
4) Activate Contacts With Donors and Partners
5) Mobilize Immediate Response to Affected World Vision Project Zone
Your organization or church may have different needs, but every ministry needs a five-step plan. A laminated card, carried 24/7, by the pre-selected disaster team is a great management best practice.
Recently a team member at Christian Management Association experienced the homegoing of an elderly family member on a Friday. We thought we had a good communication system for sad moments like this, but I didn’t learn the news until the following Tuesday. “We all thought someone had told you,” everyone said.
We’re implementing the laminated card system. What’s your crisis plan?