Who’s ready for tomorrow? It’s a 9/11 Question

Who’s ready for tomorrow? It’s a 9/11 Question

Who’s ready for tomorrow? It’s a 9/11 Question

Fulton County Daily Report 05.03.10

By David W. “Woody” Johnson and Philip Hauserman


It is hard to believe it has been more than eight years since those horrible events of September 11. Time invariably diminishes memory.

And time can also be the enemy of good business thinking, at your own office or facility. Or at your client’s.

However remote the possibility, a terrorist attack, violent storm, fire, hostage situation or criminal rampage can occur at any time.

When faced with an unexpected incident that shuts down a facility for even one or two days, more than 50 percent of companies go out of business. Permanently.

“Ask not if you’re ready for a crisis. Ask rather who a good bankruptcy lawyer might be.”

Not ready to go there? Then here are a few more immediate questions every leader must be able to answer. (No second guessing allowed.)

  • Is there a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan(Follow-up question:  Uh, where is it stored, exactly?)
  • Is there a crisis management team? (Follow-up:  Does every team member know how to contact (home and cell) the team leader?)
  • Is there a crisis communications plan to support the team? It’s important to keep employees and the media informed of the facts – don’t let a vacuum of information be filled with rumors and speculation.
  • Is there common knowledge of who is leading the crisis management team? The CEO should not be running the crisis. He has a company to run.
  • Is there a certainty that employees know what to do if a critical incident occurs? If the answer is yes: when was the last time a drill was conducted, if ever?

Those are the “who” and “what” questions. The “where” questions are also important.

  • Is there a designated place for the crisis management team to manage the crisis?
  • Is that location adequately equipped to support the crisis management team?  Is it permanently available? Crises don’t just fade away.
  • Is there an alternative site where the crisis management team can operate? The disaster might render the “war room” uninhabitable.
  • Is there a system in place to frequently and systematically back up critical corporate records (including intellectual property) at an off-site location? How accessible is it?

The most important questions may provide the antidote to the “going out of business” scenario.

  • Is there a response plan, including a lock-down plan and an evacuation plan, if an incident threatens employee lives?
  • Is there a means of quickly accounting for all employees and moving them to a safe location?  

Chilling thoughts, but the answers may save the business and the lives of its employees.


About David W. “Woody” Johnson, Jr.

Woody Johnson is president of Johnson, Maples & Associates, Inc. (www.johnsonmaples.com), a corporate security services firm that provides a wide range of security services for a diverse clientele of corporations and institutions, financial intermediaries, law firms, private individuals, and federal and state governmental agencies. He has over 28 years of law enforcement experience and is a former leader of the FBI Office in Atlanta. Contact him at 404.995.0535 or wjohnson@johnsonmaples.com.


About Philip Hauserman

Philip Hauserman works with The Ledlie Group (www.theledliegroup.com), the Atlanta-based corporate communications consultancy.  He has helped a number of companies across the United States prepare for and manage crises, from class action cases to criminal intrusion on corporate properties. Contact him at 404.266.8833 or philip.hauserman@theledliegroup.com.  

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