You Need to Take a Risk Retreat

One of the best ways to prepare for your company’s next crisis is to simply walk away. Holed up at home or in weird hybrid work environments during these last few years has distorted our perspective.

Not to mention that the world has changed so much since all of us were together in the office. So, before we venture back into the new normal, it would be a smart idea to conduct what I’ve started calling a risk retreat.

A risk retreat is a chance for you and your colleagues to take an intense look at what could go wrong in the coming months. Ideally, you are not conducting this retreat in intellectual isolation.

Instead, consider who else can help challenge your assumptions. This could include experts in health, social and political issues. In addition, it’s wise to incorporate people who are not members of the executive team. This could include contractors and even your customers.

One of the main goals should be to review, revise and, in most cases, completely rewrite your crisis plan. Look at what has not worked well in response to recent events.

After that, look sideways. Consider what is happening outside of your company and industry during this moment. How have your competitors handled PR crises?

Next, look ahead. What is most likely to change or become a challenge in the coming months?

Part of this process should include intensive simulations of various scenarios, especially those on the extremities. We often fail to adequately account for how bad things can get and how one problem often exposes several others at the same time.

Moreover, it’s really important to look at the small stuff. How could seemingly minor process or personal friction quickly morph into a major incident?

Companies are far more vulnerable than they were prior to the pandemic. Risks have become more regular and require more than brief mentions during team meetings.

As such, it’s critical that you and your colleagues examine newly created cracks in strategies and structures. These sessions also provide a valuable opportunity to share how the last fewyears have touched teams personally.

Use these sessions to create a dedicated, deliberate time to share your worries, weariness and weaknesses. Because only when we have an open, honest discussion with ourselves, will we be strong enough to weather the next storm.


-Brett Bruen

Brett Bruen teaches crisis at Georgetown University and served as President Obama’s director of global engagement.
He is president of the Global Situation Room.