Update March 2018: there is a lot more to find on our blog about this book, check out this post about our book launch event in Brussels (in Dutch, with aftermovie!) and this interesting book review by Manu Steens from the Flemish Government.


2 authors • 4 chapters • 20 euros • 30 days • 100 pages

Hugo and myself started writing this book on July 21st, as hinted in our holiday reading recommendations blog post. Full of inspiration with new insights about neuroscience and agile performance, we wrote about integrating new thinking and additional tools into our existing crisis methodologies and principles. Our book exists due to the many tireless efforts of Lieve Dhaene, Communications Director of Belgiums largest health care federation: Zorgnet-Icuro. We had long discussions on various topics related to crisis preparedness: Where do organisations actually stand today? How to cope with the difference in capacity between a big hospital and a small care center? How to obtain specific crisis competences? How to deal with the impact of the federal financial cut downs in health care, hindering growth of organizational resilience?

Order the book here.


The golden triangle when dealing with a crisis

The first chapter sets the scene of integrated crisis management. It discusses our thinking about handling crisis situations. At PM we are dealing with crisis management and strategic crisis communications since 2004. Over the years we have mostly observed what doesn’t work during a crisis. Luckily we also found (and developed, tested, implemented) some gems: certain knowledge, principles, methodologies and tools that actually do work during different kinds of crisis. Predominant in these gems is the golden triangle. The three domains which form this triangle are: operational crisis response, crisis policy making and crisis communications. As a theoretical principle, the golden triangle seems simple but in reality it is rather hard to organise, especially at times when the operations of an organisation become stressed. In the first chapter we elaborate on the psychology behind the golden triangle, the challenges of building and maintaining resilience in an organisation and the paradigm shift from the perfect world view to the normal chaos approach.

The golden triangle meets IBOBBO

After the first chapter which is about integration, we zoom in to each of the three separate domains in a standalone chapter. In these chapters we apply a second gem of crisis handling to each domain. This gem is called the IBOBBO principle (a Dutch acronym) which finds it way into many operational crisis organisations due to the remarkable book Help, a crisis! (2015, Dutch, Help! Een crisis). IBOBBO has its origins in the OODA principle developed by the American fighter pilot John Boyd during the Korean War (1950-1953). OODA stands for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. The authors of Help, a crisis! divide Act in three individual actionable stages: command, follow-up and rounding up the actions with the gathering of new information.

Richly illustrated theory

We illustrate the discussed theories with actual stories within health care. At the end of each chapter we list fundamental questions to discuss among representatives of the three domains of crisis handling. With these questions we aim to spur organisations to reflect on how the theory resonates within the own unique organisational setting.

book on crisis management isn’t written yet

Summer of 2014. At the annual CIP Institute conference Hugo invited the British scientist Nigel Lightfoot to Brussels as keynote speaker. Nigel talked about his position as an advisor to several of UK Prime Ministers. Before diving in the fascinating story of the poisoning of former KGB colonel Aleksandr Litvinenko with Polonium-210 he started his lecture with these words: “The book on crisis management isn’t written yet”. He ended with the consideration if it’s even possible to write such a book. We think it’s not. In our view crisis management is extremely complex and prone to constant change. Crisis management is not static, concepts and crisis gems have to be constantly adapted to variables in time, space and perspective. In our book we try to make sense of this idea of adaptation: we illustrate our thoughts and experiences with examples from numerous crisis situations we experienced in health care. We hope to have made a contribution to the book of crisis management someone might write in the distant future.


To round up this article, Hugo and myself want to thank, well, we want to thank you.
You, who is interested in this complex and messy business of risk and crisis.
You, who we have learned a lot from or may adopt ideas from in the future.
You, who gives destructive and constructive feedback so we never take anything for granted.

Thank you.


The book ‘crisisbeheer in zorgorganisaties’ is available via: 

Stijn Pieters is a crisis strategist who specializes in risk and crisis management for companies and governments. He is co-founder and managing partner of PM and co-founder of the CIP Institute.