Crisis Champions: Clarify

In the midst of a crisis there is overwhelming pressure, both from within the organisation and from external forces, such as stakeholders and environmental factors.

The key is to generate clarity in uncertainty by holding to a set of agreed priorities.

The opportunity to be distracted by the urgent rather than the important is heightened in a crisis. Beware the noise that comes from someone else’s agenda.

Ensue the organisation is focused on what is truly important, and absolutely foundational, or it will busy itself in the urgent minutia. 

Whatever you do, if it’s going to be effective it has to be simple, super simple. This is not a time for complexity it’s a time for simplicity. You need a clarion call to galvanize an organisation to change its behaviour based on a simple set of imperatives.

The great Kiwi, Sir Peter Blake led Team New Zealand to successive victories in the America's Cup yacht competition in 1995 and 2000. The key to this success was that Blake focused the team on one question, which they asked about everything they did: "Will it make the boat go faster”?

Everything they did and every decision they made had to go through the filter of "Will it make the boat go faster”? This applied to equipment, training, nutrition, and crew composition; literally everything. They knew their priority.

As well as your actions your perspective becomes important. If you just focus on the short term you will react rather than respond and there’s a big difference. Think medium term and act short term. The action learning cycle is important but needs to be framed within a medium term objective. As India’s independence activist and first Prime Minister Nehru once said, "Crises and deadlocks when they occur have at least this advantage, that they force us to think." 

So think, prioritise, clarify and simplify. What’s mission critical, understand that, and drop the rest. Don’t get distracted by others’ agendas. Be proactive and not reactive, having a medium-term perspective for your short-term actions.

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