Pick up a newspaper any day of the week and you’re likely to see stories of a business in crisis or with issues. Whether it be a fund manager trying to protect their reputation, retailers struggling on the high street, or an airline or bank experiencing difficulties with their tech, crises are commonplace. But what exactly is a crisis?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a crisis is ‘a time of severe difficulty or danger. A time when a difficult decision must be made.’

A crisis can be broadly defined into one of eight categories, each with a scale of influence. At the top end of the scale, with the least ability of influence, is a natural disaster (i.e. earthquake, volcano). As you move along the scale, human involvement and influence is greater;

  1.     Natural disaster
  2.     Malevolence (sabotage, terrorism etc..)
  3.     Confrontation (consumer boycotts or strikes)
  4.     Human error
  5.     Business and economic
  6.     Technology
  7.     Deception / misconduct
  8.     Skewed values

There are plenty of examples of each of these crisis types – the Volkswagen emissions scandal of 2015 springs immediately to mind, while the drone ‘attack’ on Gatwick airport in Christmas 2018 can certainly be described as malevolence. That single event caused disruption to over 1,000 flights, with close to 150,000 passengers affected.

It is important that organisations are prepared for a wide range of potential crises. Rostrum offers a full one-day workshop looking at what a crisis is, and how firms can prepare for – and deal with a crisis. All of our workshops can be tailored to specific situations and businesses. To book a course or find out more, check out our training site and the issues management workshop.