Contingency plans are essential for the majority of organizations. They allow the company to have a course of action even when the original plans become obsolete due to an unforeseen problem. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, sabotage, technical errors, and a great number of other issues may cause a company to engage its contingency plan (Dou et al., 2014; Harvey, Dabic, Kiessling, Maley, & Moeller, 2017; Meher & Solanki, 2017).
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If it is done successfully, the majority of the issues caused by panic can be avoided, and normal operation may resume a lot faster. To gain a better understanding of how contingency plans are formulated, an interview with a manager of an airline company was conducted. Over the course of eight questions, he provided valuable insight into contingency planning that deserves examination. This paper will provide an overview of the interview, as well as explore some of its points in greater detail.
Information Discovered During the Interview
The interviewed manager had worked at the company for the last 15 years and witnessed multiple cases when contingency plans had to be engaged to deal with unexpected issues. Those issues included loss of supplies required for intercontinental flights, fires on the tarmac caused by technical malfunctions, loss of a branch office building due to a natural disaster, and even a crash landing. He pointed out that the decision-making process during crisis situations may be the defining factor for the success or failure of contingency plans.
There is always a period of panic between the crisis and the engagement of contingency plans, and it is crucial to keep yourself in control to successfully transition the team into the crisis resolution mode. The most difficult contingency plan to perform was during the previously mentioned crash landing. A massive passenger plane lost control of its landing gear due to a mechanical failure and had to crash land at the nearby airport.
This was the first instance of such a dangerous malfunction for the majority of the crisis management crew, so it took a great effort to resolve the issue. Fortunately, the pilot, control tower crew, and the airport emergency services were performed professionally, and no passengers or the crew were killed or seriously injured. The company then promptly provided free medical assistance to all the passengers, as well as monetary compensation for their tickets and psychological shock that was caused during the landing. Major scandals were avoided, and the reputation of the company was preserved despite the malfunction.
Creativity in Contingency Planning
While some elements of contingency planning may be obvious, others require a more creative and critical approach. During the interview, the manager described how on multiple occasions, the presented instructions were not fully applicable to the situations they were designed to address. These issues were found before the contingency plans had to be executed, and the management team was able to correct or expand the plans as it was needed.
For example, the plan for dealing with an unprofessional employee during a flight did not include instructions about how they need to be separated from the passengers before the plane lands. The original contingency plan only included instructions for after the landing of the plane. However, unprofessional behavior during the flight may have a highly detrimental effect on the company’s image, and in worst cases, can bring harm to the passengers. By analyzing the situation from a more creative point of view, procedures for ensuring that the unprofessional crewmember does not disturb the passengers were established (Hamann, 2017). Such critical thinking can be essential for contingency plans and, by finding creative solutions, may resolve issues that were previously overlooked.
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After listening to a person who has extensive experience in contingency planning, I understood that creativity is highly valued in this process. In the future, when I am tasked with performing contingency planning, I will make sure to use creativity as one of the primary tools. Every possible outcome should be considered and covered by the contingency plans. For instance, there may be multiple issues happening at the same time, which would require additional input from the manager.
By thinking about this type of situation beforehand, a more flexible plan may be created, which would account for multiple issues at the same time. It may not be viable to write a separate contingency plan for every combination of events, but if each plan is constructed in a way that does not prevent others from being engaged, then they may be seamlessly combined. This approach could result in a variety of positive outcomes that could save lives, prevent disasters, and avoid negative publicity for the company.
Aside from the value of creativity in contingency planning, I learned about its effect on the decision-making process. Ideally, when examining a possible new strategy or another element that involves the decision-making process, a person should approach it creatively.
A hospital that has to order specific medical supplies may do so directly through the usual channels, but they are likely to receive a markup on the price of their shipment. Thinking creatively allows for more options to be available for the team. The same hospital may seek partnerships with medical supplies companies, instead, to purchase their product at a reduced price (Hamann, 2017). This is just one of the many possible examples where creativity provides a benefit to the decision-making process.
Key Steps That Require a Contingency Plan
Some elements are more likely to require a contingency plan than others. Evaluation of which steps of the main plan are more likely to fail is needed. The steps may vary between different types of organizations. Some are more universal, however. When a company introduces a new product to the market, it may need to create a contingency plan for situations in which it proves to be unsuccessful or encounters a manufacturing issue that prevents the use of usual factories.
Contingencies for deaths of key executive and creative staff can be relevant to most companies. In addition, when examining the safety of the new product, management should create a contingency plan for a situation where a previously unforeseen issue with the product causes harm to the customer. When a step might cause harm to people or the company, it should always have a contingency plan attached to it.
The creation of contingency plans is one of the most important activities for companies. A variety of issues may affect a business plan; therefore, to minimize the damage, a contingency plan should be developed. Creativity and critical thinking are both required to find all the possible ways of resolving unforeseen issues.
Dou, M., Chen, J., Chen, D., Chen, X., Deng, Z., Zhang, X., … Wang, J. (2014). Modeling and simulation for natural disaster contingency planning driven by high-resolution remote sensing images. Future Generation Computer Systems, 37, 367–377. Web.
Hamann, P. M. (2017). Towards a contingency theory of corporate planning: A systematic literature review. Management Review Quarterly, 67(4), 227–289. Web.
Harvey, M., Dabic, M., Kiessling, T., Maley, J., & Moeller, M. (2017). Engaging in the duty of care: Towards a terrorism preparedness plan. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 28, 1–26. Web.
Meher, S. K., & Solanki, V. K. (2017). Contingency planning for the downtime of the hospital information system: An implemented approach. International Journal of Telemedicine and Clinical Practices, 2(2), 140. Web.