Planning for a Crisis

Published On: January 20, 2023By Categories: Business Management, Editor's Note, Editor’s Note

By Thad Plumley

I’ve been thinking about a request one of my colleagues got years ago from the boss: You need to figure out how we can operate business as usual if the building burns down.

I remember at the time thinking it was such an odd thing to plan for. After all, what were the chances our building was going to burn down?

And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. There were not actual flames, but there is no doubt that was certainly a four-alarm blaze that left many businesses around the world a smoldering pile of ashes.

We didn’t miss a beat. The National Ground Water Association continued to provide its members with education and other benefits. In my little corner, NGWA’s publications, newsletters, and emails continued to provide content to members and subscribers right on time.

I’ve thought about our crisis management plan a lot because this past winter brought storms that had iced-over thermometers reading temperatures not seen in decades where I live.

My family’s holiday get-together was put on hold when the wind chill factor fell to a numbing negative 35 degrees. What the big chill didn’t do, though, was slow down anything relating to my job.

With staff scattered about in their homes, some of whom were surely working with a blanket on their lap and a cup of hot chocolate beside their computer, NGWA moved right along, not missing a deadline, mailing, or anything else.

I hope your company has a crisis management plan. It most likely does, but when is the last time you looked at it? Better yet, when is the last time you really read it line by line to make sure it is still current in this changing world we live in?

We have always had one here, but a few years ago the challenge was laid down to update it and create a working scenario where a staff driving to a building is not possible. Thank goodness the goal was realized by my colleague.

A good crisis management plan will outline possible risks.

What does your plan look like? Does it have scenarios that include your building going up in flames? What if the inventory in your warehouse or yard is damaged? What if your work vehicles are stolen? What if your lead driller suddenly takes a personal leave of absence and can’t work for an extended period? What if the company president suddenly passes away?

These all need to be considered. A good crisis management plan will outline possible risks, protocols that trigger actions, the chain of command for such scenarios, detailed action responses, and then how to communicate the plans internally and externally.

I know it sounds crazy to even think about things like this. But sadly, it’s necessary. Tragedies happen every day. Someone is dealing right now with one of the scenarios I mentioned. I hope it’s not you.


Thad Plumley is the editor of WWJ and the director of publications for the National Ground Water Association. He is currently the secretary for the AM&P Network Associations Council Advisory Board. The AM&P Network is a national association for publishing professionals.. He can be reached at tplumley@ngwa.org, or (800) 551-7379, ext. 1594.

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