Risk management vs crisis management – are you in the right mode?

Written by Annie Makoff-Clark. Additional reporting by CMI Insights Monday 26 February 2024
Managers have to manage risk and uncertainty every day. But what happens when risk flips into crisis? Do you have the tools and behaviours required?
The remain's of the burnt out jeep is lifted from the scene at Glasgow International Airport after the 2007 attack

In June 2007, a Jeep loaded with propane canisters forced its way into a Glasgow airport terminal. When the car failed to explode, the car’s inhabitants threw petrol bombs.

The police didn’t class the attack as a crisis; they deal with emergency situations every day. But the airport absolutely did. 

The emergency response was swift. David Stewart CMgr FCMI and his team quickly coordinated with emergency services, senior airport personnel and representatives of various airlines and began performing their pre-agreed responsibilities. At the time he was a police officer. 

Following the attack, the perpetrators were apprehended. Flights were cancelled, aircrafts were grounded and terminals were full of stranded passengers. There was a lot of media and political attention. Yet, thanks to successful crisis management and critical incident response, the airport was safely re-opened 24 hours later. 

Watch: Leading through crisis

Today, David is MD of Taynuilt Associates, which specialises in organisational change and resilience, risk and crisis management. He believes that the principles are inextricably linked. A missed risk may result in a crisis, which may then bring about a need for organisational change. 

Whether you know it or not, managers and leaders are dealing with these complex questions every day. One moment you’re helping your organisation be risk-ready; the next, you need to switch into full crisis management mode. We asked three experts about getting the balance right and making sure you can switch up when you need to.

Want to learn more about the difference between risk, crisis and change management?


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