Crisis Management

by Dr. Donald E. Wetmore

Crisis Management, for the most part, is when a deadline has snuck up behind you and robbed you of all choice. And crisis management, for the most part, is poor time management. Why? You're under pressure, maybe cutting corners. Things can slip through the cracks. Your stress level is increased. The quality of your performance may not be what it ought to be.

I have been amazed through the years when my college students would hand in term papers and inform me that they didn't have enough time to do a good job. I would reply, "When in the future will you get more time to redo it because if it's as bad as you suggest, I'm going to give it back to you to redo." You don't have the time to do it right; where will the time come from to fix it?

I would suggest that if you find yourself in Crisis Management a lot, it probably has less to do with your day-to-day responsibilities and more to do with a lack of anticipation, because most of the things that put you into Crisis Management are things that are capable of being anticipated.

Use a Crisis Management Log

A problem well defined is 95% solved. If you have an accurate accounting of your time crunching crises, you've gone a long way to reducing them in the future.

Here is a good exercise to help reduce Crisis Management. For the next two weeks, run a Crisis Management Log. Nothing fancy about it at all. Simply take a pad of paper and entitle it "Crisis Management Log," and for the next two weeks when you encounter a crisis, log it in. Put down the date and time it occurs and a little detail, so that two weeks later when you go back to review, you will remember the particulars. After two weeks of accumulating this data, go back and review every crisis you encountered and ask yourself, "Which of these could have been avoided?"

Most people discover that about 20% of the crises they suffered through were unavoidable. Stuff happens. We cannot eliminate all crises.

Most people discover that about 80% of the crises they suffered through could have been avoided with better anticipation and planning. After running your Crisis Management Log, start taking the corrective steps to reduce the frequency of crisis management events by, for example, starting items sooner or requesting needed information sooner rather than waiting until the last minute to receive it.

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