Issues Management: Planning is Key - Campbell Squared
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Issues Management: Planning is Key

At C2, we’re regularly helping our clients navigate issues and we encourage them to have a plan in place, should a situation arise.

As one of our Senior Consultants, Kerri Jones, discovered last weekend – whether it’s a major organisational issue or a personal incident – the same principles apply.

It was around 11pm last Saturday while on holiday in the Coromandel, when my mobile phone started ringing, our lovely next-door neighbour’s name appearing on the screen. Retired and a keen gardener, Bruce often rings to offer us some vegetables or herbs that he’s cultivating but given the time of night I suspected that this wasn’t the reason for his call at that moment.

My hunch was right. “Kerri, your house alarm is going off,” said a sleepy sounding Bruce. My first thought was that it must be a fault in the system or maybe a cat had got inside, and to tell Bruce not to worry and go back to bed until it switches itself off. We live in a safe neighbourhood with a high feline population; there’s no way someone would be breaking in.

Turns out I was wrong. A bare-footed opportunist had got into our garage and opened a few cupboards but once the alarm kicked in, had hoofed it off the property. Meanwhile, our other neighbour (and good friend), wearing just his underwear no less, having heard the alarm jumped the fence to see what was happening. Within minutes Bruce and Captain Underpants had called the police and four cop cars had blocked off the area, with sniffer dogs on the way.

In this instance, we were lucky to have escaped any theft or damage to our property. But it was a good reminder of how important it is to have a plan in place should an incident arise, whether you’re a multi-national business, community organisation or homeowner, and reinforced some fundamental principles that every crisis and issues plan should include:

  1. Know your neighbours and stakeholders – build relationships with them, know who you can trust and rely on in an emergency, and have their contact details handy.
  2. Tell your community what to expect – let those around you know what to anticipate, so they know what’s ‘normal’ and notice anything out of the ordinary.
  3. Have a plan in place – make a clear plan of action with key people so everyone knows what to do in an emergency.
  4. During an incident, keep people updated – this is important for instilling trust that the issue is in safe hands. The police who were called to our property were outstanding. They rang us several times to let us know what they were doing, and what the next steps would be.
  5. Trust the experts – give them the space to do their jobs properly.
  6. Be clear and consistent – have one person leading communications so there’s no chance of mixed and misconstrued messages getting out.
  7. Follow up – after an event, people are likely to be concerned about it happening again. Make sure you let them know the facts and the whole story, rather than them having to rely on word of mouth.
  8. Learn from the past – take learnings from previous experience so you don’t make the same mistakes again.

And one more learning from Saturday’s experience: Underwear remains a key component of every good superhero’s outfit.