Updated: Dec 20, 2020
The book Political Risk: How Businesses and Organizations Can Anticipate Global Insecurity*, was specifically written to facilitate learning from past political challenges, in both national and international environments. Let’s see if the same lightbulbs go on for you as did for me as I read each of these crisis categories.
Geopolitics: Which are cross-border crises such as interstate wars, great power shifts, multilateral economic sanctions and interventions
Internal conflict: Defined as domestic crises such as social unrest, ethnic violence, migration, nationalism, separatism, federalism, civil wars, coups, and revolutions
Laws, regulations, policies: Which can be thought of as changes in foreign ownership rules, taxation, environmental regulations, national laws
Breaches of contract: Where governments renege on contracts, including expropriations and politically motivated credit defaults
Corruption: Via mechanisms such as discriminatory taxation, systemic bribery
Extraterritorial reach: Which is the cross-territorial legal- or policy-reach of powerful states into the affairs of others in such cases as unilateral sanctions, criminal investigations and prosecutions
Natural resource manipulation: Such as politically motivated changes in supply of energy or rare earth minerals.
Social activism: Not always a threat, but these polarizing events or opinions become crises when significant social responses are generated in the wake of “viral” events.
Terrorism: Which are politically motivated threats or the use of violence against persons or property
Cyber threats: Specifically, the theft or destruction of intellectual property, espionage, extortion, massive disruption of companies, industries, governments, or societies.
A year ago today, if you’d asked me if I thought our day to day would reflect all 10 crisis categories in political history, I’m not sure what I would have said. But today I know different. In an environment of change and chaos, resilience has taken on a whole new meaning. Resilience in spirit, in organizational resolve and purpose, in belief and faith, in altruistic love, in forgiveness. It seems we are at a crossroads of compassion and politics and commerce. Social activism and internal conflict has in some ways created a new form of cognitive dissonance. Scandals and reputations crossed with acts of God and corruption. It’s interesting to note in the area of organizational development, modeling crisis typology to form predictive responses and communication plans for the hopper - mean, in the “unlikely event” sort of shifts to in the “likely event”.
It supports overall organizational resilience to be well positioned to develop effective communication strategies for everyone that is invested in the company - communication plans that can be used again and again before, during, and after a particular crisis event. Creating optimum customized responses for each potential crisis scenario keeping in mind who it affects the most and how, establishes sensing mechanisms for predicting future crises, probably the most key component of resilience, along with setting expectations and preparing channels for crises management feedback.
So, are we in the rabbit hole given our recent and ongoing experience of every single one of the political crisis risks all at once? Yes, though having a list of unique crisis types and a working crisis communication plan that can immediately and uniquely affect our organizations, can help a great deal in the development of a stakeholder-centric approach to crisis management, no matter how global in scale. Because crisis happens whether or not we’re in that rabbit hole.
*Author’d by Condoleezza Rice and Amy Zegart