How a crisis assessor is like a fire marshal

Crisis expert and author Jonathan Bernstein explains why so many companies don’t have worthwhile crisis plans, and why they need them.

By Jonathan Bernstein’s estimation, about 95 percent of companies are unprepared or seriously underprepared for a major crisis. Every time he audits a company’s crisis plan, it “always has gaping holes in it,” he says, even when the company claims to have a complete plan.

Bernstein, president of Bernstein Crisis Management and author of the new book, “The Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management,” says the key reasons those plans have such big holes in them are “arrogance and denial.”

Most of that comes directly from the top, he says. Lots of C-level executives think about crisis preparedness as an unwanted expense, Bernstein says. “Preparedness is a hell of a lot more effective, and cheaper, than response,” he counters.

What does it take to be truly prepared? Bernstein says it takes three pieces beyond simply developing the plan itself:

1. A vulnerability assessment

Most companies simply don’t conduct vulnerability assessments, because they’re often regarded as unnecessary expenses.

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