How can you plan for every crisis that might occur, even for ones you can't imagine? The authors' 20 years of research shows that three out of four Fortune 500 companies are prepared to handle only the types of calamities they've already suffered, and not even all of those. That's unfortunate because the research also shows that the crisis-prepared companies fare better financially, have stronger reputations, and ultimately stay in business longer than their crisis-prone counterparts. Crisis-prepared companies use a systematic approach to focus their efforts. In addition to planning for natural disasters like flood and fire, they divide man-made calamities into two sorts--accidental or normal ones, like the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and deliberate or abnormal ones, like product tampering. Then they take steps to broaden their thinking about such potential crises. They imagine themselves as terrorists, for instance, or consider threats that would be common in other industries. And they seek creative outside input from investigative journalists, lawyers, and even reformed criminals. But if they think broadly about possible threats, they think narrowly about implementation. Each year, smart companies focus their resources and attention on a few facilities picked at random. That reduces the probability of an attack on the entire organization even as it allows the business to migrate steadily to a higher level of crisis readiness.
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