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Know the drill: it’s time for a desktop simulation

It’s not just sporting teams that need to run drills and exercises to stay on top of their game; organisations also need to regularly schedule crisis simulations to ensure everyone knows what to do when the real thing strikes.

Let’s face it, regardless of your organisation and industry, chances are a crisis will hit at some point. It could be a health and safety incident, data breach, stakeholder attack, management misbehaviour… the potential list is endless.

While full-blown crisis simulations can be disruptive and expensive, depending on your business, a desktop crisis simulation is a simpler, but still effective way to test your organisation’s crisis management procedures.

A desktop simulation involves the members of the crisis management team, and key support staff, gathering to manage a fictional scenario that evolves over time.

Running a desktop crisis communication simulation allows you to get a feel for the fast-pace nature of a surprise crisis, while also learning the importance of record keeping, communication, clear roles and strong management.

Ultimately, the desktop crisis simulation should answer the following questions:

How up-to-date is your crisis management plan work and does it work?
Crisis management plans are often formulated and then relegated to the cupboard or computer drive, never to be seen again. By putting the plan to the test, you’ll quickly realise if the plan is out of date (because people have left, roles have changed etc) or whether it works at all.

Does everyone know what their roles and responsibilities are?
Every crisis management team will have a leader, but this leader also needs the support of level-headed, competent and knowledgeable team members who know what their roles and responsibilities are.

Does information flow accurately and timely?
During a crisis, information comes in from a number of reliable and unreliable sources and will need to be disseminated to the organisation’s stakeholders quickly and accurately. A desktop simulation demonstrates how this information should flow up and down the chain of command and to external stakeholders, whether they are workers, their families, governing bodies, the general public or the media.