How This Crisis Management Framework Protects Your Organization

Suppose your organization is still afloat after nearly a year of dealing with all things COVID-19. In that case, chances are you either had a well thought out crisis management plan or were nimble and savvy enough to make the necessary adjustments in lieu of such a plan and figure things out as you went along. 


In either case, future historians will look back at 2020 and ask questions such as “How did one company survive while another did not? How is it that some companies in the same industry, with similar business models survived while others closed?”


Crisis Management and the 3 C’s Framework

Perhaps it will be posited that success or failure was not due to the company with the more significant cash reserves or superior (but yet inflexible) business model, the companies left standing leveraged technology better than the failed companies. But how did this play out in 2020? 


One emerging theory is that by employing the “3 C’s” strategy, companies were able to stay afloat during utter confusion and uncertainty:  Capturing accurate information about the crisis as fast as possible; Confronting the crisis; Communicating information throughout the organization. Companies who used this framework have positioned themselves to not only survive 2020, but 2021 – which may be as bad or worse than 2020 when dealing with all things COVID-19 and otherwise.


By employing the “3 C’s” strategy, companies [can] stay afloat during utter confusion and uncertainty.


Capture Accurate Information

Looking back, it was rather evident that dark clouds were on the horizon in January and February 2020.  Modern-day technology told us as much if we chose to listen.  From the internet, social media, and television, there was no shortage of stories from around the world that COVID-19 was coming to the United States.


That said, one would still need to filter out the hype or misinformation from the reality. The risks inherent in relying on false information is why successful leaders turned their attention to medical personnel in universities and hospitals for guidance.  By March 2020, it was becoming very clear to more and more leaders that they would need to confront this situation sooner versus later. In response to the information, leaders needed to quickly scale back on staffing, shut down, and even close offices.  


Confront the Crisis

Historians will note that not every company or organization confronted the COVID-19 threat equally.  Some pulled out of conferences as early as February 2020. Other companies threw down the gauntlet deciding to go 100% remote-first into 2021 or even permanently.  The ability to make historically bold moves relied upon not only the ability to capture accurate information but having the guts to confront the crisis head-on.


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Confronting the crisis in 2020 meant “going with the team you have on the field,” which in many cases forced leaders to be creative and leverage 2020 technology as best they could.  One outcome for many of us today is a world where the word “Zoom Fatigue” affects us as we live and in a new world where video conferencing “all day, every day.”


Today’s technology helps employees stay connected with friends and family, minimizing risky personal contact, and getting the virus. 


Communicate throughout the Organization

During the last pandemic in 1918, most people knew to wear masks and wash their hands. Like today, life had to go on in many respects, and one had to take their chances and find a sense of normalcy.  In some ways, dealing with the modern-day pandemic hasn’t changed much, but the way we communicate with each other is dramatically different today.


Today, companies can share information or provide alerts to all employees at a moment’s notice. The swift move to have the entire workforce work from home relied on effective communication channels. On the personal side, today’s technology helps employees stay connected with friends and family, minimizing risky personal contact, and getting the virus. 


Crisis Management: What Lies Ahead

As we head into 2021, it seems that Covid-19, the common flu, and perhaps other events will continue to challenge crisis management leaders and their teams.  As with stocks and mutual funds, surviving 2020 does not equal or guarantee future results, so now is not the time to let our guards down.  If we continue to review our crisis management plans, make the necessary adjustments, and find ways to leverage modern-day technology, leaders can navigate their company and its workforce around the worst of a crisis’s impact.


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About the Author

Mark Willis
Born and raised in Northern California, Mark joined the US Army in 1993 and served for six years as a Counterintelligence Agent. Mark went on to spend nearly a decade at Northrop Grumman as a senior software engineer while attaining a Juris Doctorate from George Mason School of Law. Mark then journeyed on to become the Director of Software and Mobile Security for Aetna/CVS before joining Bluescape as CISO in June 2019.

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