Our first CCNE online conference took place on October 18th. CCNE is a European network of 11 crisis communication agencies sharing experiences and supporting each other in cases that cross country borders. PM was part of the conference organisation committee and is proud of the event, that, because of COVID, happened completely online. In this piece, Tim Toulmin, Managing Director at Alder, reflects on a few things he picked up at the event.

  • You can’t predict the future, but you should try (a little bit)

A session led by Julien Draillard Losada, an advisor at CCNE’s Belgian affiliate PM • Risk Crisis Change, encouraged us to invest time in creating foresight. Secretly, many people in all lines of work probably share what Julien described as “this feeling as if we are always one step behind”. He also suggested that crisis teams traditionally haven’t ever looked far ahead enough into the future.

This doesn’t mean you need to aspire to clairvoyance, he made clear: “Foresight is not about predicting the future, it is about asking questions about what could happen and how the future could be.” Losada suggests using a PESTLE analysis to look at likely, possible and improbable developments of Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Legal and Environmental trends. You might find another framework or analytical process works for you – whichever you chose, if it helps you as a crisis specialist to get even slightly ahead of the curve, it could be highly valuable.

  • Don’t overplan for scenarios, it’s a waste of time

This might seem paradoxical when considering the previous point, but one of the key conclusions from Bert Brugghemans, the Chief Fire Officer in Antwerp Fire Service in Belgium, is that overplanning future scenarios is a waste of time. He said it was a certainly good idea to have a broad brush idea of things which could go wrong, and have some set protocols for dealing with them, it’s a waste of time to get into too much detail.

This certainly rings true – although it can be difficult to reassure people that they don’t need to spend too much time thinking through every implication of everything which could go wrong. Brugghemans also suggested that “in the future, crisis will not be an outlier it will be your normal”.

Read the full piece on the website of Alder.