Emergencies happen when we least expect them, so we have to be ready in advance. Surprises are not always welcomed in the corporate world, most of the times they are bombshells, facts we did not include in our plans or circumstances that were not included in the initial part of our strategic planning. Yet we have to be prepared to diminish the impact and reduce the turbulence.

Imagine the following scenario. Something dreadful occurs and you are not capable to deal with it on your own, something like a car accident. You are stuck in the wrecked car and the doors cannot be opened. You look at your co-pilot that is bleeding from a head injury. The police and an ambulance arrive and use their expertise to extract you from the car and take you and your companion to the hospital. Everything turns out right. You realize how fortunate you were that specialized, well trained teams were available to provide assistance. They had the right tools to solve quickly and accurately a situation that could have had worst consequences.

In most corporations, nothing comparable to emergency teams exists to rescue you from unexpected calamities. So, it is a good idea to set one up, and make sure it can work quickly and effectively when needed. When is the right time to build a team like that? Obviously not in the middle of a storm, it has to be prefigured in advance. The key point to deal successfully with emergencies is the rapid response capability.

The rapid response capability is the ability to minimize the impact when something unknown and unexpected occurs. It has close ties to tactics and operates in the area of the black spots. The rapid response capability is an extreme solution and should be used only for urgent problems of large impact that you cannot solve by your own and in any other way.

To use this capability, you need to create a team, a network of people who specialize in solving urgent problems that can cause huge bad impact for the organization. Persons trained in mapping problems adequately, who are skilled and mature enough as to value if they can help or not. If they cannot, they step apart, if they can, then they get involved.

When they get involved they analyse what they know about the problem and what they do not know. They focus on efficiency and prepare scenarios, plans, strategies. They enter the war room. Then they ask themselves what they do not know and use their capabilities and information to perform. The team must be aware that there are a bunch of unexpected variables so they have to follow a method. It is important that no matter what, they stick to the method.

The method has to contemplate the following steps:

  • first, they have to define the problem;
  • second, they have to know if the problem hits the team or not;
  • third, they have to qualify the urgency degree;
  • fourth, they have to know if there is a way to prevent it in the future.

It is important to know that rapid response capability teams handle only urgent problems that were not prevented and that hit the companies with large impact. In unstable environments where many urgent problems arise, the temptation to use these teams all the time grows. In environments with fewer problems, the teams tend to be underestimated. But it is imperative to have a rapid response capability team ready and available full time. A rapid response capability team is able to:

  1. make a quick scan of the emergency and decide whether to launch the method;
  2. inform the crisis team and make decisions;
  3. go in and solve the situation quickly;
  4. provide support afterwards to help the organization heal the wounds and recover from the intervention.

The solutions given by the rapid response capability team are extreme because they are executed in the middle of an emergency. If we go back to the example of the accident, we can imagine the policemen acting to get you out of the car, but did you imagine the condition in which the car was left? I can assure you, the car was even more destroyed after the police intervention than the way it was after the accident. During urgency there are rough decisions that often destroy something in order to preserve a better value. This is why these teams should be used only under specific circumstances.

The rapid response capability teams are helpful because they reduce the time of turbulence with their quick response. It decreases the amplitude of the confusion when a calamity occurs. It increases security and confidence during daily operations. And it provides after-care to reduce the inevitable commotion created by the dramatic intervention.

Emergencies happen when we least expect them, so we have to be ready in advance. So set up a rapid response capability team as quickly as you can. Do it, because it is an efficient way to reduce turbulence, though, it is extreme. Do not wait to be in the middle of the storm, do it while we still have sun shining days.