What defines a crisis? We tend to think of a crisis as an extreme event or a critical incident yet crises don't often emerge overnight nor fade away quickly. The seeds of a crisis can germinate for a long time -- unseen or ignored -- to explode sharply into our consciousness, and then quickly vanish from our attention. Too often, the lag in the "official" recognition of a crisis is followed by far too little time spent in response ... even as the victims endure years of difficult recovery.
At the CCL Crisis Leadership Forum in March 2007, we heard that crises tend to become chronic. Kyle Waters, senior vice president of Branch Banking at Capital One observed that one of the difficulties is that things become far less clear-cut in the messy wake of a crisis: “In a crisis, the goal or vision is mostly easily identified. But in recovery, the goals and interest get blurred.”
A leadership challenge for us is to be able to better make sense of the subtle factors that create a crisis and to enhance our capability to work through the complexity that follows. Crisis needs a new definition and a new understanding.