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The Power of Exercises

Every day organizations are confronted with sudden events disrupting their normal operations. Such events can take the form of a power failure, cyberattack, material scarcity, fire, act of terrorism,… The current risk landscape constantly challenges organizations and their vulnerabilities, now more than ever, with climate change, energy security, (geo)political tensions, supply chain disruptions and cybercrime here to stay for the foreseeable future. To face these challenges, organizations need to invest in robust and mature crisis and business continuity management to become more resilient.

Having a crisis or business continuity plan is one step to a coordinated response, but plans need to be tested to make sure they are fit for purpose. Regardless of the maturity of your organization’s continuity or crisis program, exercises – in whatever form – are a very pragmatic and helpful way to build and/or improve your organization’s resilience.

Preparation is vital for good crisis management as teams need to be familiar and comfortable using the plans. They need to understand and be able to execute the roles, responsibilities and activities that are set out in those plans. Exercises are the best way to achieve these goals in a safe learning environment and strengthen an organization’s response capabilities. They build the muscle memory needed to respond effectively in a real crisis. Other benefits of such exercises are listed in figure 1.

Figure 1: Benifits of crisis exercises

There are different ways to exercise or test your plan, tailored to different teams and different levels of maturity starting from a basic walkthrough session, all the way to a live terrain exercise:

Figure 2: Crisis exercise formats

In this approach, Executive Leadership and/or the Board should not be forgotten. Board members could individually attend these exercises either as a participant or an observer or can share their interrogations and questions upfront. We have seen that this can provide the board with first hand visibility into executive leadership’s preparedness and can also create a better understanding of mutual expectations. 

Testing organization readiness in a simulated and safe environment where learning to improve is the key objective, is vital to securing the resilience of the organization and continuing operations in the face of disruptions.  

If you would like to know more about how exercising strengthens organizational resilience and how Deloitte can help you, don’t hesitate to reach out to Koen Magnus. 

Key Contacts

Nicolas Bas

Senior Manager, Risk Advisory

Consultant with a passion for security, defense and crisis management. Strategic Foresight & geopolitics enthusiast. Experience as a home affairs and security policy advisor in the Belgian Federale Parliament and for the Belgian Minister of Security and Home Affairs.

Koen Magnus

Partner, Risk Advisory

Koen is a Risk Advisory Partner and Deloitte Belgium’s sector leader for Defense, Security & Justice. As leading Partner for Crisis & Resilience services in Belgium, Koen helps national and international organisations in various industries prepare for, respond to, and recover from critical incidents and crises. Koen is an active member of the Global Deloitte Centre for Crisis Management and is ISO 22301 Lead Implementor and Lead Auditor certified.