Standardized CM Terms and Concept

Before we proceed with the rest of the crisis management blogs, it is essential to understand some basic definitions used throughout BCM Institute's professional training.
Moh Heng Goh

CM TerminologyIC_CM_Standardized Term and Concept

Before we proceed, it is essential to understand some basic definitions used in this blog. Additional terms (BCM Institute, 2008) can be found in

A crisis is a critical event that may impact an organization's profitability, reputation, or ability to operate. It may not be time-dependent and usually does not deny access to facilities and infrastructure.
Crisis Management (CM)
Crisis Management is the overall coordination of an organization's response to a crisis. This is done in an effective, timely manner, with the goal of avoiding or minimizing damage to the organization's profitability, reputation, or ability to operate.
Crisis Management Plan (CM Plan)

CM Plan is a clearly defined and documented plan of action to implement and manage the CM process.

Crisis Management Planning (CM Planning or CMP)

CM Planning is the process of analyzing vulnerabilities, evaluating existing crisis management plans and developing and implementing a comprehensive CM program.

Crisis Management Team (CM Team or CMT)

CM Team consists of key executives, essential key supporting players, and the heads of business with critical functions. Each member has a set of pre-defined roles and responsibilities for implementing the CM Plan.

This team decides and approves the activation of the CM, BC or IT DR plan.

Relationship between IM, CM, and BC Plans

Relationship between IM, CM, and BC Plans

Relationship between IM, CM, and BC Plans and its alignment to the six “Rs”_v3

Relationship between IM, CM, and BC Plans and its alignment to the six “Rs”

Difference between an Emergency and a Crisis

An emergency is defined as a sudden, unexpected event requiring immediate action to protect people, the environment or property. Examples include fires, natural disasters, or chemical spills. Emergencies are handled by “first responders” such as fire departments and Emergency Response Teams.

A crisis (Simon, 2012) is a much broader event, with a larger impact. It may be sudden and unexpected, or it may develop over a period. A crisis is defined as an event that, if not handled appropriately, may have a major negative impact on the company’s profitability or reputation. Examples include major emergencies, human resource issues, ethical issues, product safety issues, civil unrest or third-party attacks. Crisis events typically require actions by multiple departments, communications to employees and other stakeholders, and response to both the short-term and long-term impacts of an event

An Emergency Response Plan is designed to address response orientated issues such as life, health, safety, evacuation, floor warden, emergency, and notification. Consider it an OSHA type of plan required for any organization having 11 or more individuals.

Crisis management is often typically an executive-level activity (Simon, 2012), particularly in cases where the reputation of the enterprise, as perceived by its marketplace and stakeholders, may be at issue. At this level, the people directly accountable for the organization can gather, weigh the issues at hand, and make the necessary, and often tough strategic and tactical decisions. The crisis is not a time for passing the buck.

CM Related Terms

These are the additional terms used for crisis management.

  • Business continuity
    • The organization can continue the delivery of products or services at acceptable predefined levels following the disruptive incident (ISO 22301, 2012).
  • Business continuity management
    • It is a holistic management process that identifies potential threats to an organization and the impacts to business operations those threats, if realized, might cause, and which provides a framework for building organizational resilience with the capability for an effective response that safeguards the interests of its key stakeholders, reputation, brand and value-creating activities (ISO 22301, 2012)4.
  • Media communications management

     A pro-active engagement (BS 11200, 2014) with the media to ensure that:

  • Accurate information is provided;
  • Coverage in the media, including social media, is monitored to assess positive and negative stories; and
  • The action is taken to provide accurate counterbalancing information where the organization’s reputation is being damaged.
  • Crisis
    • The abnormal and unstable situation threatens the organization’s strategic objectives, reputation or viability.
  • Crisis management
    • It is the development and application of the organizational capability to deal with crises.
  • Incident
    • An adverse event that might cause disruption, loss or emergency, but which does not meet the organization’s criteria for, or definition of
  • Interested party
    • Person or organization that can affect be affected by or perceive themselves to be affected by a decision or activity (ISO 9000, 2015)3.7
  • Risk management
    • Coordinated activities to direct and control an organization concerning risk (ISO Guide 73, 2009)
  • Situation report
    • Summary, either verbal or written, produced by an officer or body, outlining the current state and potential development of an incident or crisis and the response to it
  • Situational awareness
    • State of individual and/or collective knowledge relating to the past and current events, their implications and potential future development
  • Top management
    • A person or group of individuals who directs and controls an organization at the highest level (ISO 9000, 2015)2.7.

Difference between Crisis Management and Crisis Communications

When a crisis breaks, an organization’s response to the situation can be divided into:

  • An operational response; and
  • A communications response.

Consider what an organization would do and say to bring a situation under control. Both are interrelated. What an organization do will affect what an organization can say. What an organization say depends on what an organization have done or what an organization plan to do.

Crisis Management is about how to manage these two responses in tandem so that what an organization say and do are synchronized. It starts with how an organization handle the situation operationally, which has a lot to do with the amount and quality of information you can muster and the robustness of the decision-making process of the crisis managers. Their initial action will determine the communications response.

Crisis Communications is the management of the crisis response itself. The advising of what an organization should or should not say and how to say it, when- essentially the tactics of communications during crises. It is a subset of crisis management and does not necessarily help the affected company to strategically manage the crisis.


A Manager’s Guide to Implementing Your Crisis Management Plan

Goh, M. H. (2016). A Manager’s Guide to Implement Your Crisis Management Plan. Business Continuity Management Specialist Series (1st ed., p. 192). Singapore: GMH Pte Ltd.

Extracted from Chapter 5: Standardized Terms and Concept





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