Twenty-first Century crisis management involves several elements – a comprehensive (written) crisis management plan, a crisis management team, crisis drills, and a crisis management center. That last element has undergone some changes as crisis management has evolved.
In the early years of crisis management (about thirty years ago), many organizations had what they called a “war room” – a dedicated room equipped with the latest technology and used only during a crisis. These rooms were quite costly to install, and understandably sat idle most of the time.
Today, most companies use a conference room that can be quickly transformed into a temporary crisis center. One of our clients – a Fortune 200 utility – has one of those centers. And it’s particularly impressive. Here’s a quick tour:
The center is a 1,700-square-foot conference room located on the executive floor, which provides good security. The room has six wall-mounted TV screens that can monitor and record various local and national news programs, serve as teleconference monitors, and can also be used to project PowerPoint and other visuals. Other equipment includes several “white boards” and clocks, WiFi capability, adequate phone jacks and power outlets, and a lectern. There’s also a small station with controls for all the electronic equipment in the room. In the center of the room is a large table with seating reserved for the twelve members of the crisis management team.
On the perimeter of the room is a series of connecting tables for the company departments or functions that may need to participate in the crisis management process. This company has eighteen functions identified by place card – such as aviation, environmental, customer service, legal, government affairs, and business unit leadership. Microphones are placed at intervals along the tables for use in teleconferences.
Outside the room is a seating area with several credenzas for food and drinks. Restrooms are a few steps away.
This company has created one of the most effective and practical crisis management centers we’ve seen. It’s come up with the right location, size and set-up. And the room is equally well suited for other company purposes such as meetings and training sessions.