In the face of disruption, companies face significant threats to their brand, reputation, and viability. Instituting a strong corporate resilience program is fundamental to companies of all sizes, but particularly important for large corporations with a global footprint and complex internal organizational structures. In June of 2021, a U.S.-based advanced-technology and manufacturing company with products spanning aerospace, automotive, residential, commercial, industrial, specialty chemicals, plastics, and engineered materials needed to generate further consistency in how crises were managed across a multi-tiered crisis management structure. Not only did adaptive leadership and decision-making need to be preserved, but crisis management teams at each level needed to be empowered. Additionally, communications and engagement between the corporate-level crisis management team and the strategic business groups and regional teams required streamlining.
While the company had formal processes, they were not uniformly adopted across its tiered crisis management structure and there was little employee buy-in. To address these issues, Witt O’Brien’s began with unifying learning-based objectives to guide crisis management training and exercises. By implementing a series of scenario-based exercises using crisis events and triggers, Witt O’Brien’s provided the crisis management teams with an opportunity to uniformly apply formal processes and analyze potential impacts and consequences. These scenarios also helped the teams develop issue resolution strategies and prioritize actions for functional teams (IT, Operations, Legal, HR, etc.).
To anchor and embed consistency across the global teams and resilience practitioners, Witt O’Brien’s support was expanded to learning development, instructional design, and computer-based training module development. Introductory courses were developed that conformed to existing learning management system standards and were distributed across the company covering topics such as “What is Resilience?”, “What is Crisis Management?”, “What is Business Continuity?”, and “What is Disaster Recovery?”
Witt O’Brien’s developed a complementary training standard, that supported the policy-side of the resilience programs. This standard identified which type of stakeholder required what type of training, if it was recommended or mandatory, and the necessary training cadence over the calendar years of 2022 and 2023.
Successful crisis management support led to Witt O’Brien’s expanding its scope of service to include company-wide business continuity. Designing ‘product-based’ business continuity approaches helped unite facility-level and strategic business group planning efforts. Business continuity software modifications were made to accommodate program needs and planners were trained on the data inputs required to enhance senior leadership decision-making.
Witt O’Brien’s support of the company continues to this day. We are engaged at every level to help resilience leaders anchor and embed business rules and processes that guide response, allow creativity, and promote adaptability during crisis management efforts. By enhancing consistency, crisis events can be better identified and understood, teams are more empowered as roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, and additional senior leadership support can be activated when needed. With our support, the company’s corporate resources are deployed more efficiently to not only manage and recover from immediate disruption but prepare for and build long-term resilience capabilities.