Companies and organizations are now much more aware of the risks to which they are exposed. Threats can appear at any time and being prepared in situations of danger is the key to managing a crisis, both external and internal. That is why big companies are demanding more and more simulation drills to be run. In this way they can recreate the conditions of tension and immediacy of an emergency and enable their Crisis Committees (CC) to “learn by doing”, internalising the dynamics of the decision-making process. At Institut Cerdà, we have seen the demand for this type of service increase amongst the range of services and activities offered by the Crisis Management Support Service.
The general objectives of the simulations are to prepare the members of the CC for making decisions in this type of situation; decisions that may affect the staff, the assets, the image and the reputation of the company. An additional objective is to make them aware of the multiple events that may occur and the sequence of them. Finally, another objective is to identify opportunities for improvement and aspects that should be addressed in greater detail in the respective Crisis Management Plans.
The generic phases of a simulation are start-up, development, disruption (optional phase) and closure. In the first phase there is an alarm that forces decisions to be made and the first interlocutors appear. During the development phase new events occur and more information is produced, increasing, in turn, the number of interlocutors leading to new decisions. In this phase there is also a dichotomy between internal and external crisis and the participants (CC) are encouraged to design “practical actions” (press releases, list of interlocutors, operational issues). In the event of a disruption, the more or less linear dynamics followed so far break down and a certain degree of chaos is generated. The closure, the final phase, should be consistent with the decisions taken so that participants see the importance of their decisions and their management. From this point of view there can be two possible outcomes: positive (normality is recovered) or negative (costs, fines, official investigations, loss of clients or closure of facilities).