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Keeping cool in a catastrophe

Most of us don’t like thinking about what could go wrong in life and business, but for Grant Chisnall, it’s his job. Grant, from Left of Boom, is an expert crisis management advisor. He has supported some of the world’s leading organizations through crisis events ranging from cyber-attacks, natural disasters, and, of course, COVID-19.

Grant Chisnall, creator of crisis management company Left of Boom.
Grant Chisnall, creator of crisis management company Left of Boom.

After witnessing a near-drowning on a school camp as a young man, Grant joined the Clifton Beach Surf Lifesaving Club, got his bronze medallion, and learned first aid. It wasn’t long before he had cause to use it.

“We were driving through the Midlands on a bus for our first game of football for school that year when we came across a road accident and unfortunately, someone had passed away at the scene.

“Myself and my friend helped with the scene before the ambulance arrived,” Grant said.

“Being the first there was really distressing but we were both really calm and went through the training that we’d been taught.”

Grant knew he wanted to keep on helping people and applying leadership under pressure, and he embarked on a 12-year career in the military.

That’s where Grant’s crisis management business gets its name: Left of Boom is a military term, referring to the time leading up to an explosion or incident…the window when you can still change things for the better. Here’s how he helps organizations work through the boom.

The pandemic: “It doesn’t give a stuff who you are”

“The challenge with a pandemic is it attacks everything, which means that everyone needs to have the appropriate mechanisms in place to deal with it.”

“Any sort of good crisis plan has to deal with the welfare of people. For any crisis, and especially for COVID, the welfare and mental impacts are critical to have a plan for,” Grant said.

Grant said maintaining a safe workplace has never been more critical.

“It’s about finding other unique ways to connect with people. I’ve seen some great organizations have an additional Zoom catch-up for a beer.”

How to handle a crisis (calmly)

Check in with your people

“Give the team some assurance that you’re here to help, and that you’re here to assist them through this problem. This is generally the first stage of any engagement,” Grant said.

Get situational awareness (Or, get your head around the problem)

“Start building out an immediate action plan. You’re starting to work out what the structure is going to be, how you’re going to manage the team, and looking at your cadence of operations,” Grant said.

“Getting that momentum going actually orientates people to the problem, and at least for a short period of time, they will put behind them some of the issues that they’re going to face. Undoubtedly they’ll have to face them, but we’ll help them.”

Plan to fail

It might not be comfortable, but it’s important to plan for failure.

“It’s not about the individual, it’s not about the team that’s involved, it’s actually about the business as a whole, understanding what the problem could be and having the right strategies in place to deal with it,” Grant said.

“That’s the most difficult part, I find. No one likes to admit that their patch could be the source of a potential failure.”

How Grant helps businesses ADAPT in a crisis

“I’ve built a methodology called ADAPT, which is really around decision-making under pressure,” Grant said.

A. Analyze your problem. How can you work through it?

D. Decide on a course of action, or design options that you could work through.

A. Analyze those options, choose one, and then prepare to enact it.

P. Prime your organization.

T. Trigger the chosen option. Timing comes into play from there.

Hear more from Grant on the LiveTiles Intelligent Workplace podcast.

Need to connect your remote workforce? Find out about LiveTiles Intranet and the LiveTiles Reach Employee app here.

Find out more about Left of Boom.

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