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The implementation of a crisis management system is essential to the organization. Once the planning phases are completed, the implementation phases will include the resources and plans to address emergency response, communication, continuity, information technology, incident management and exercise/training. All aspects of the crisis management will be brought together for my organization (AT&T). To be prepared for a crisis, the organization needs to have a preparedness plan and the right leadership to respond to the crisis. The SLP will involve detailed framework on AT&T regarding assessing crisis management. Additionally, it will include organization and attributes, types of crisis, leadership needed for success, models and theories used, preparedness planning and development phases.
ORGANIZATION AND ATTRIBUTES
The organization’s culture or attributes involves the values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that employees share and utilize daily at work. It is all based on determination how they work to include understanding the business and how to fit into the business. The culture and attributes is the motivation to make decisions, take actions, and excel in performance for the organization. The culture of an organization is created by the consistent planning and action. If the organization and the people in it understand it, they will promote it or radiate it outward to make the organization successful. (AT&T, 2017 and 2016)
AT&T has a legacy of giving the first responder and public safety organizations the support needed to handle a crisis. The attributes they possess are being trusted, experienced technicians and leaders, dedicated to the mission, and constant investing. AT&T allocates many mission-critical abilities to the Federal, State, and Local governments. (AT&T, 2017 and 2016) However, the organization must have a resilient and secure network that is joined with innovation leadership (AT&T Labs and AT&T Foundry). The ‘&’ within AT&T represents the integration of a “one ability plus another ability”. Additionally, it represents the mission objective to give critical resources for the governments by providing the dexterity, experience, and dependability that is synchronized to the emergency responses so they can protect, work together, and respond. (AT&T, 2017 and 2016)
TYPES OF CRISIS
It is important to identify types of crisis especially developing or assessing crisis management plans. Potential crisis is immense, but can be combined to make it bigger (snowball effect).
Organizational crises are depicted as low-probability and high-consequence situations and are commonly categorized by uncertainty. The efficient management of an organizational crisis is reliant on leadership performance that reassures members to dynamically participate in knowledge acquisition and the devising of strategies to rectify the crisis. (Advameg, Inc, 2017) (James and Wooten, 2005) It is imperative that leaders foster a set of skills that will support in prevention and the efficiency to reacting to the crisis issues. Crisis leadership competencies are especially significant in dealing with the operational, strategic, and human resource functions and outcomes when crises transpire. Additionally, leader’s need to be able to adapt and overcome these crises based off their training, knowledge, and experiences of past and present. (Advameg, Inc, 2017) (James and Wooten, 2005)
The two most organization crisis that are face today are sudden and smolder crisis. Sudden crises are situations that happen without any type of warning and it is beyond the organization’s control, such as organization related incidents and natural disasters. (Advameg, Inc, 2017) (James and Wooten, 2005) Smoldering crisis are serious organization issues that known within or without the organization. Additionally, they typically start out with minor internal issues that leaders can control (negligence) and can have a negative perspective coverage if it goes public, such as major controlling actions, government inquiries, customer and employee accusations, and media investigations. (Advameg, Inc, 2017) (James and Wooten, 2005) Smoldering crisis causes the most harm and destroys the reputation to the organization. Furthermore, it can be difficult to discover and try to resolve (egos and abilities) due to directly or indirectly involve management decisions. (Advameg, Inc, 2017)
AT&T has an all-inclusive response, recovery, and restoration program that supported by its internal processes that allow for minimal impact to the customers. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005) AT&T’s IT Service Continuity (ITSC) is a resource that identifies and manages the IT service continuity risks. Furthermore, it safeguards and helps to minimize risk, cost, and duration of disruption to major sensitive service processes within and to their customers worldwide. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005) Another resource utilized to restore normality from a crisis is the Network Disaster Recovery (NDR) team. It can provide quick recovery services for a broad range of disaster scenarios to include providing recovery over the global network. The main role of the AT&T NDR is to recover the services of compromised networks and to take care of their assigned personnel on the team. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005)
The training plan for AT&T’s employees is very extensive. The managers, engineers, and technicians receive special types of training in physical recovery of the network and participate in recovery exercises annually to understand and practice the skills of the NDR’s equipment and processes. Furthermore, the ensures that personnel know how to do the assigned tasks in case of an emergency or crisis. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005)
LEADERSHIP NEEDED FOR SUCCESS
Effective leaders possess the same traits and characteristics such as effective communication, knowledge, experiences, and upbeat personality. The traits combine to shape the core of the most effective leaders. The traits are necessary and are important for an effective crisis leader. (James and Wooten, 2005) The following characteristics explain the top leadership characteristics needed for success prior, during, and after a crisis. Leaders need to have coordination to build team cohesion and integration. Effective leaders need to be able to define, analyze and understand the unique complexities of each crisis to make the right decisions. Leaders should be able to react efficiently under stress during a crisis. Additionally, being goal oriented to lay out the short and long term goals (setting objectives). (James and Wooten, 2005) Leaders need to be able to give information and have two way communications (active listening) to include interacting in an open and honest way with other people to the context of different perspectives to a crisis (team work). Leaders need to be able to ‘think outside the box’ (open-minded and adaptive) when reflecting and understanding different solutions to a crisis. (James and Wooten, 2005) Leaders are always responsible and take ownership of resolving the crisis to include recognizing others if it was a team event. Leaders have the trait of prioritizing by having the sense of balance to recognize what issues need to be resolved first and what is the most important to resolving other decisions or solutions. Lastly, leaders need to be trained and prepared by being knowledgeable of the organization’s contingency plans and recovery operations to include the skills, abilities and traits of the organization’s members. (James and Wooten, 2005)
AT&T’s business plan is a ‘roadmap’ to the goals of AT&T’s business metrics, prioritization, imperatives, and capabilities among all the components within the organization. The success of leadership comes from the guidelines based in the business plan and they are aligned with what was mentioned above. The success of execution of AT&T has leaders working together to capitalize on their competitiveness in the market. The leaders analyze the long term calculated risks and anticipate the mitigation to overcome the risks. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005)
The experience aligns participants to AT&T’s strategic direction and objectives, and enables them to develop and practice leadership skills that will support successful execution of the company’s plans, including leading change. The participating leaders are committed to a personal action plan and drawing a line of sight from the company’s strategic objectives to their day-to-day work. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005) The plans focus on concrete actions that leaders would take to lead with distinction and accelerate execution of AT&T’s strategic imperatives. In addition, they provide a monetary profit improvement estimate. The leaders outline how their plan will serve to improve return on invested capital which is a long-term measure for the company (One AT&T). To date, participants have targeted hundreds of millions of dollars of improvements aligned to the One AT&T strategy. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005) Moreover, the initiative has been credited with accelerating the formation of new workgroups and organization changes to support the strategy. The leaders are involved with the action plans and objectives in the daily operations. The plans focus on the leaders managing the execution of the strategic imperatives to include profit improvements and how to improve the plans. The right talent of leadership is needed to be committed to have constant innovation, motivation, and persistency. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005) Furthermore, AT&T’s leaders are disciplined and focused so it reflects on the team and the markets. AT&T’s leaders must possess competencies to improve the structure and operations of the organization (positive intent, ability, shared respect, and the impact for trust-building). Additionally, the leaders go through a five phase concept such as signal detection (sense making), preparation and prevention (averting the crisis), containment and damage control (reputation), business recovery (normal operations), and learning (experience and opportunities). (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005)
The main effort to save the reputation of AT&T is to have a crisis communication plan. The effort to communicate to the public and the stakeholders when events occur is vital. The main things to discuss is the philosophy, assessing vulnerabilities, and to create a procedures to overcome. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005)
MODELS AND THEORIES
AT&T has models and theories that are associated with crisis management, just like any other organizations. The models and theories are as follows: crisis management strategy, crisis management model, crisis management planning, contingency planning, business continuity planning, structural-functional systems theory, crisis leadership, and social media and crisis management. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005)
AT&T’s crisis management strategy is intended to prevent crisis for following up the advancements of the organization. It projects the future ongoing monitoring of internal and external environment crisis as well as selection and implementation of the prevention strategy and management of operations (control and coping strategies). (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005)
AT&T’s management model for a crisis is about leaders understanding how to handle a crisis before the occurrence, such as avoidance, mitigation and recovery. The phases involves diagnosis of imminent situations or signals, selecting the best improvement strategy, and implementation of the process and monitoring. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005)
AT&T is like any other organization who doesn’t look forward to dealing with crisis situations that can cause them to be distracted from their operations, especially the ones that deal with the media. Furthermore, the public enquiry can put a negative effect, specifically on financial, political, legal and government influences. In other words, the CEO of AT&T is prepared and has a plan to deal with having the best response to a crisis, such as impacts and what they are doing about the situation (crisis management planning). (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005)
Social media can have information become viral instantly. It breaks news faster than the traditional media, which makes managing a crisis difficult. AT&T has mitigations dealing with social media situations and conducts training how to deal with the media. Furthermore, AT&T has a policy in place to include social media tools for monitoring. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005) The tools can also provide the crisis management teams’ access to real time information regarding the impacts of the crisis and who is impacted with their concerns. AT&T has a planned approach created under their continuity and contingency plans on how information is released to the media. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005) Additionally, the plans will have the reaction process that includes the crisis management team and other leaders. The leaders and the crisis management teams of AT&T understand how to deal with the media and they are prepared based off training scenarios. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005)
AT&T integrates contingency plans in the management planning process. The first step they take is to ensure the organization is prepared for any type crisis. The management teams train on scenarios and plan from it. The plan developed stipulates the procedures to include who would speak to the public regarding the crisis. Additionally, it is vital to have cooperation in any crisis and AT&T assures questions are answered to include information to resolve the situation. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005) AT&T identifies the initial part of the crisis is the most crucial and speed and efficiency to resolve the situation is important, specifically having programs and communications quickly operational. AT&T’s contingency plan has the information and guidance to support the decision makers to deliberate short and long term effects of the decisions. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005)
AT&T’s continuity plan supports the disruptions and it identifies the vital functions and processes that are essential to the operations. Additionally, AT&T develops this plan early. The plan is part of the impact analysis phase that discusses the organization’s losses. The functions that are vital has their own contingency plans to mitigate the situation. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005) Furthermore, the plan provides the mechanisms to allow resiliency and provide recovery assets. AT&T stresses the importance of rehearsing the actions needed in exercises so the team members will act swiftly and effectively. Furthermore, the exercises provide a purpose to allow AT&T to conduct debriefings to understand and document lessons learned (fictional to reality). To ensure effectiveness, AT&T ensures the plan is reviewed and makes changes as necessary for validation. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005)
AT&T provides information to their employees and other ‘audiences’. Structural-functional system theories are essential in an effective crisis management. It focuses on the information networks and command communications. Furthermore, it identifies the flow of information within AT&T. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005)
AT&T demonstrates leadership competencies that facilitate the recovery during and after a crisis. The organization builds an environment of trust to their customers and simultaneously improves their organization approach. The leaders identify the noticeable and unknown vulnerabilities and make wise and rapid decisions to mitigate risks to alleviate the crisis. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005) Additionally, the leaders at AT&T make a point to learn and develop tactics, techniques, and procedures to effect the change in the organization. The testing and validating the continuity and contingency plans support the validation of leadership during a crisis to include the structure. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005)
PREPAREDNESS PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT PHASES
During AT&T’s preparedness planning and developing phases, the organization identifies their mission critical functions to efficiently manage risks. The functions all the organization to give critical services, civil authority, safety to the public, and sustain economics. AT&T takes a proactive approach to respond and the preparedness plans specify the redundant systems, back-up sites (telecommunications), employee communications, and alternate work sites if needed. Furthermore, the plans have customer communications instantly after the crisis. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005) AT&T leadership understand the importance of the impacts of any given crisis that could affect the national security, citizen services and economic well-being. In the end, the preparedness planning is essential to the operational functions across the comprehensive range of hazards and emergencies that could impact physical assets, buildings, and people. During the preparedness planning, AT&T utilizes these planning principles to prepare for any type scenario of a crisis that could arise. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005)
AT&T has a understanding of the functions that are vital to the organization and how the different situations of a crisis could impact operations, such as services and products (processes and impacts). Furthermore, the understanding of how the situations will impact leadership, abilities, security, and communications (mission-critical functions). In the end, by determining all that was mentioned will determine the type of response needed to mitigate the risks. Additionally, it will establish the authority and emphasis the resources to effectively help the response to any given situation. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005)
AT&T finds it necessary to complete a functional risk assessment to address the critical functions and then make the suitable investments. Additionally, the assessment identifies the processes, resources, and suppliers which have a great impact to serving the customers to reach mission objectives. AT&T can also identify the threats, the vulnerabilities and the probability that the threats will exploit the vulnerabilities based off the risk assessment. In other words, AT&T can identify the relative risk exposure to the different elements and make fact based decisions on mitigation plans. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005)
The recovery strategies are a part of the preparedness plans and development phase. It allows for continuity strategies. AT&T determines what it needs to perform and what options are available based off internal or external resources. Additionally, they can determine what to prioritize. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005) AT&T utilizes the risk assessment and recovery strategies to develop contingency plans to specific situations. Furthermore, the organization ensures the activities from the strategies are accomplished in a systematic and harmonious way to ensure validation of the plan and personnel to include the plan being practical. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005)
During the development phase and preparedness planning, AT&T construct an all-inclusive plan and provision disaster recovery capabilities contingency plan to give the interoperable communication and continuity of essential operations with key stakeholders. An order that gives delegation to leadership is given so essential operations can continue if key leadership is unable to manage. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005) AT&T’s contingency plans identifies incremental strategic and practical changes to the continuity plan to include identifying gaps in the abilities. Furthermore, it is essential to implement any new abilities prior to a situation occurring. It will allow for a success in the recovery stage, such as AT&T fail over to Wireless Wide Area Network (WWAN) from wired networks. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005)
AT&T are always testing, training, and conducting exercises to ensure the continuity plans are able to be implemented with or without warnings. The plans are tested on a methodical basis and as realistic as possible to ensure validation and effectiveness. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005) It requires a development of tests for how they will operate from their abilities (emergency response). Furthermore, it includes recovery operations. AT&T’s emergency response teams (Network Disaster Recovery (NDR) Team) provide opportunities to obtain the required skills to execute their assigned roles in the response. Once testing, training, and exercises are conducted, AT&T considers the changes based off the situations and adjust their preparedness plan so they can validate. The changes made reflect in the continuity plan and with their emergency response. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005)
Based off the research and seeing how AT&T prepares and develops their plans, it is essential to plan for the worse case scenario. AT&T’s ability to respond quickly and effectively is vital in protecting their staff, profits, reputation and the necessary operations. It requires an all-inclusive and cross organizational planning effort. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005) Additionally, the plan is developed over a larger scale, global. By having a preparedness planning and development phase, it will support the mitigation of a crisis. (Pearson, 2002) To apply the preparedness phase, it will involve the development of each phase of the crisis management system. The planning gives the combined method and common terminology to the plan for all threats and hazards across all mission areas (Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery). (Pearson, 2002) The plans and processes need to be reviewed and supplemented accordingly to meet the analysis and assessments made from training and exercises. Additionally, the personnel in the organization need to know their roles. By having a proactive approach and the understanding of sensitive mission-critical functions, it will allow organizations to provide vital services, exercise civil authority, maintain the safety of their employees and the public, and to sustain its industrial or economic base. (FEMA, N/A)
The risks assessments that are developed by AT&T allow identification, assessing, and reacting to possible threats. With the existing vulnerabilities, the likelihood that a threat will utilize the identified vulnerabilities is probably imminent. (AT&T, 2017 and 2016) Furthermore, the assessments allow to provide the adequate controls and risk mitigations, such as facilitate the planning, testing, investments, and actual recovery of IT critical infrastructure and applications. The mitigation of risks protects the overall integrity, reputation and brand to include controlling it, prioritizing it and organizing it quickly and efficiently. AT&T considers the changes to any situation and environment that could affect preparedness. (AT&T, 2017 and 2016) AT&T validates the continuity plan that is implemented by conducting training, testing and exercises to ensure the plan works in the time of a disaster and if any improvement needs to be done to the continuity plan and the emergency response. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005)
AT&T’s response planning phases clearly define the use of resources from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and can be utilized as a reference point for disaster and event planning. (FEMA, N/A) By having exercises to identify gaps, it will allow for assessing the impact of a disaster or crisis for the organization. Additionally, it will identify the gaps and risk that are not so obvious (small to larger events). (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005)
Crisis communication is essential to withstand any crisis and may in the end rest on the effectiveness with employees, customers, suppliers, and any other interested stakeholders. The readiness to deliver the right message about the impacts is essential to both internal and external dependencies. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005) In summary, the continuity plan, risk assessments, and the dependencies need to be communicated to the organization. Additionally, the organization needs to be able to foresee crises, distinguish crisis communications team, identify and train spokespersons, establish notification and monitoring systems, identify and know the stakeholders, create statements, evaluate the crisis, confirm and adapt significant messages, and analysis after the crisis. (AT&T, 2016, 2010, and 2005)
AT&T’s mission is to “connect people with their world, everywhere they live and work, and do it better that anyone else. We’re fulfilling this vision by creating new solutions for consumers and businesses and by driving innovation in the communications and entertainment industry”. (AT&T, 2017 and 2016) AT&T’s preparedness is proactive and is essential to maintain a reliable global network when a crisis strikes.
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