I heard from a reader who was struggling with crises or emergencies that continually get in the way of their priorities. I am not 100% sure of what is going on in this persons life, but if crises and emergencies are routine then they aren’t crises and emergencies … they are normal.
There is an old story about a suitcase manufacturer based in Montreal. They made beautiful high-quality suitcases that people might have used during the glory days of plying the seas via ocean liner. Sadly they were slowly going out of business because people were no longer sailing but were flying and required smaller suitcases. When asked why this company didn’t start making small suitcases, they responded resolutely that they could not switch over because they were too busy making large ones!
Crisis management occurs when you are to busy dealing with the problem at hand, small emergencies grow into large problems or crises. We become overwhelmed rather than invest time and resources into long-term solutions … solutions that could prevent the crisis from occurring in the first place.
Got A Problem, Fix It!
If you’re going to put an end to crisis management, you’ve got to get out in front of the problems and stop them before they occur.
It’s not that small business owners and non profit leaders don’t want to nip problems in the bud, but doing so requires the two precious commodities we’re usually short on: time and money.
And, since there are always more tasks than people to do them, it’s easy to see why crisis management is a problem. Why during a crisis we just keep making large suitcases instead of biting the bullet and switching over to what our customers want.
When you’re fighting for your life the urge to stay with what you know and where you are comfortable is natural and completely understandable. Yet you begin to feel like you’re sinking, your perspective is diminished and short-term survival instincts kick in.
You simply can’t manage if you’re always in a crisis.
Eliminate Crisis Management One Step At A Time
You didn’t get to where you are all at once. You did it one small step at a time. So you shouldn’t be surprised when I tell you that it is the same with eliminating crisis management. Here are some steps to consider:
- Where did it start? The next time you’re faced with a problem ask yourself and the people around you where it began. Find the root cause. Even if you don’t have the time or resources to fix the fundamental cause of the problem, just by identifying it you have made progress in eliminating crisis management in your organization.
- What are the quick wins? There probably are many root cause problems that can be fixed by making small changes.
- Are there sacred cows? These issues sound like, “We’ve always done it that way.”
- What is your collective intellectual horsepower? Ask your staff, Board or a mentor for their thoughts and suggestions for improving the organization.
Like the suitcase company, If you are to busy dealing with crisis to fix the root causes than you will be stuck with a failing enterprise. Only by constantly and fearlessly shining a light on what is really going on in your company will allow you to identify then fix your problems.