April 25, 2019
In a Crisis, Will You Be Ready?
by Mike Manes
You won’t have all the answers--you don’t yet know all the questions--but begin a crisis management process with your families and firms.
Fifty years ago, Rock, David and I were at Pelican Aviation’s hangar listening to several seasoned pilots talk about their most terrifying experiences in the air. One said, “The engine made a loud noise, the plane shook violently and suddenly I couldn’t see a thing.” One of us innocently asked, “What happened – did the windshield shatter?” His answer was simple, “No, tears.”
Having spent much of my adult life in insurance, I’ve seen many disasters. The question is: Are we ready?
Hurricane Katrina was a terrible event for Mississippi. In New Orleans, there was minimal wind damage, but there were levee failures and accompanying social/civil chaos.
There was also a little-noticed success story: LSU’s medical school relocated from New Orleans (blocks from the chaos) to Baton Rouge in about a week. This required some luck, community (BR and NO) support and, I believe, some divine intervention, but it was an example of leadership at its best.
What if you had to relocate your office, all your team and everyone’s families following a catastrophe? Have you even considered the possibility?
See also: 4 Lessons From Harvey and Irma
Here’s reality – many if not most of us will face great challenges. Some may parallel experiences we’ve seen before, just with greater or lesser intensity. There will be more fires, hurricanes and floods. Terrorists will attack us again. Planes will crash. We can’t stop all the bad in the future – the best we can do is try to avoid or at least mitigate the damage.
Most of us watched the successful rescue of 12 young soccer players and their coach from a flooded cave in Thailand. Relative to 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina, it is a minor event, but I believe it will prove to be one of the best case studies anywhere of what to do when the stakes are high, time is limited and you don’t know what to do.
Remember, these folks were lost for about 10 days before anyone even knew where they were. The last few days of their stay were examples of calm, leadership, courage, planning, possibilities and then very deliberate action.
Every Seal, volunteer, civilian, etc. should be celebrated for their effort, courage and patience – living and learning as they progressed. They didn’t rush in, reacting to a terrible situation. They walked, crawled, and swam in, well-prepared and observing appropriate caution. In construction, we’d say: Measure twice, cut once.
Never forget that one of the rescue team died early in the process. Was this loss the impetus to do things differently? I don’t know. I do believe our greatest learning occurs in adversity – it is the wisdom of scar tissue! The death was tragic but may have slowed the process and improved results.
I encourage each of us to consider the disasters that could be on our horizon. Begin a crisis management process with your families and your organizations. You won’t have all the answers, and you don’t yet know all the questions – nonetheless, be as prepared as you can and program for the unexpected. Plan your actions and act your plan.
A speaker once said at an agents meeting, “the merchant of misery is either at your door, just left or will soon arrive.” The best thing you can to is to be as prepared as possible and hope and pray you are blessed with the courage, skills, patience, process and RESULTS that these Thai crisis managers enjoyed.
Be prepared. Practice your preparations. Preparedness is a process not a one-time event. If in the end all of your preparation is not needed, BE THANKFUL. If it is needed, you may thank me for the suggestion. Good luck and Godspeed.