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4C Strategies>News>‘Permacrisis’ is the word of 2022. What does this tell us about the state of crisis management?
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‘Permacrisis’ is the word of 2022

What does this tell us about the state of crisis management?

In 2012 it was ‘omnishambles’. Now, Collins dictionary has revealed the official word of 2022, ‘permacrisis’.

Is this just a sign of the times, or does it reveal a widespread vulnerability when it comes to current approaches to crisis management and resilience?

How do you permasolve a permacrisis?

The language we use often acts as a mirror to the times we live in, reflecting our state of mind and the various forces and events shaping society. So what does the official word of 2022 tell us?

According to Collins dictionary, we have entered a state of permacrisis.

Permacrisis is defined as:

An extended period of instability and insecurity, especially one resulting from a series of catastrophic events.

‘Permacrisis’ has been crowned as the word of the year as it describes a feeling of living through a period of war, inflation, and political instability. This is something that more and more people around the world can relate to seemingly every day.

So how have we arrived at a point where ‘permacrisis’ has become emblematic of the world today?

For the most part, it’s down to a lack of resilience in infrastructure and systems of control, a mismanagement of a series of crises and, ultimately, the newly uncovered fragility of what were once considered infallible systems of checks and balances.

Incident and Crisis Response

Discover how you can build your risk, business continuity and crisis management capability with our expert services. Learn more about what 4C Strategies can offer your incident and crisis response.

What does this mean?

When the cultural zeitgeist is so clearly defined by reaction to crises and instability, some part of our response process must be wrong.

For things to get to this point, we must be honest about the failings of our institutions and organization’s approach: Too reactive to change. Too little preparation and training for worst-case scenarios. Too little action when crises occur.

Rather than lament the state of things, though, we must take this as a sign: A marker that our current crisis management is failing us.

If organisations are to manage and respond to a permacrisis like we face on multiple fronts today, we have to implement forward thinking, proactive processes and controls. We must take a long-term view of resilience and build robust capabilities and futureproofed preparedness. We must address every emergency and crisis management life cycle – preparation, response and recovery – and integrate them closely with risk management and business continuity to ensure true, tangible resilience.

A permacrisis makes the requirement for military forces to be able to track and verify their readiness in manning, equipment, support and critically training, to respond to emerging crises, all the more important.

Graeme Mackay, Director of Sales (Military), 4C International

How do we change this?

If securing a safer future for everyone boils down to managing a crisis (or permacrisis), that’s actually very achievable.

From extreme weather to global pandemics to the fallout of war, we have grappled with a string of concurrent global crises on an unprecedented scale, all within the space of a few years. This quickening pace of crises may well be a sign of things to come, but that doesn’t mean we have to watch on helplessly.

Get in touch

Discover how you can build your risk, business continuity and crisis management capability with our expert services. Book a free consultation with one of our consultants to discuss your requirements.

“Oatly needed a new crisis management model that could grow with us, and that could work throughout our organisation. Having worked with 4C Strategies before, I knew that its solid track record would make 4C a good partner for us.”

Linda Nordgren, Head of Communications, Oatly

Lessons from Crisis Management best practice

So, what can we learn from years of experience in incident and crisis management?

Below are three best practices we feel could help us better respond to the recent flurry of crises:

Failure to prepare is preparing to fail

How many crises could be avoided, or at the very least, better managed, had proper training taken place beforehand?

When stakeholders are drilled in how to react to certain situations and have a crisis plan to refer to throughout each stage, crises can be managed with process and strategy rather than relying on reaction and emotion.

Training is a critical tool in crisis management. Ensuring we put aside sufficient resource and time to train and prepare pays dividends in the long run.

Communication before anything else

Poor communication compounds the effects of a crisis. We can all likely think of events in the news, like the COVID pandemic for example, where initial communications and advice was later contradicted as our understanding of the situation developed. This initial confusion limited how effective early crisis response could be.

The lesson here is to avoid jumping the gun when it comes to communication. It’s easier to address a situation the first time around than have to go back and tell people to go against what you said before. Put a premium on clarity, be succinct with key information, and communicate effectively before acting.

Communication before anything else

When everyone involved needs to be aligned, when all information must be accurate, and when decisions need to be correct, having a single source of truth makes all the difference.

Crossed signals create more problems, so crisis management needs this kind of alignment to be effective – alignment which can only come from a holistic, end-to-end system. Each of the 3 phases of crisis management – preparation, response and recovery – benefit from the support of a single platform like this.

Integrating with other third-party systems and data sources and giving all stakeholders a go-to hub for updates and information, our Exonaut® exercise platform and mobile app allows crisis teams to efficiently design, develop, deliver and evaluate remote and in-person exercises, all in real time.

Related Insights

2022 in Review

We look back at the major events of the last 365 days and the ways they changed the world and our understanding of crisis management, resilience, and risk management.

Crisis management: Practice makes good enough

In this article, we examine why training and exercises are some of the most beneficial things an organisation can do to handle a crisis.

Why are metrics so important for operational resilience?

As part of our Operational Resilience series, we talk more about operational resilience metrics with 4C Strategies Senior Consultant Ben White.

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