Two such proven leaders, Mary Galligan and Stephen Flynn, recently spoke at Deloitte University on the topic of making decisions under pressure to an assembled group of technology executives. Galligan is a retired senior-ranking FBI Special Agent in Charge who supervised some of the FBI’s largest and most high-profile investigations—including the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. She recently joined Deloitte & Touche LLP’s Security & Privacy practice as a director. Flynn is a decorated former Coast Guard officer, and one of the world’s leading experts on transportation security and infrastructure. He has acted as a security advisor to the Bush and Obama administrations and currently heads the Center for Resilience Studies at Northeastern University. They offered practical advice for approaching a range of decisions in crisis situations, including:
Brace yourself. Expect an unavoidable event will, at some point, interrupt your company’s normal operations and management processes. It may be a natural disaster like an earthquake or hurricane, an intentional or inadvertent action by an employee, or a cyber attack directed at critical systems. When something goes wrong in today’s social media-obsessed world, news of the incident often spreads immediately, leaving leaders with little to no time to get out in front of it and amplifying the risk that the incident will turn into a full-blown crisis.
Don’t overly count on technology. In the immediate aftermath of an incident, the technology infrastructure may be compromised, forcing leaders to make decisions without the usual tools at hand. Galligan still holds onto the yellow legal pad she used following 9/11 as a reminder that you can’t fully count on computers and connectivity in a crisis.