Lessons on How to Prepare for an Unexpected Crisis

A recent Harvard Business Review article outlines findings from a five-year study of “unexpected crises in all sorts of organizations” and interviews with a wide range of professionals “who have discovered valuable lessons about how to prepare for the unexpected.”

Some of the “lessons learned” include the following:

  • Learn to stop. Managers, the study found, “need to foster norms that help people overcome the sense of defeat that comes from halting an ongoing process or giving up on a planned course of action.”
  • Do, monitor, diagnose. ”When dealing with a crisis, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by tasks,” the article says, adding, “Cycling from doing to monitoring to diagnosing—and then back to doing—is more effective, and practicing this cycle can help teams prepare for the unexpected.”
  • Know something about everybody else’s job. Researchers found that a critical factor that enables teams to handle surprises is that “members are familiar with everyone else’s work and understand how their various tasks fit together.”