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Why we should keep a diary in a crisis 

During a crisis response, everything runs on fast-forward. Days roll into months, and as the stakes change, the response evolves to cope. When the storm passes and business returns to usual, the stress, trigger points and decisions behind a past crisis are likely to morph into a memory of a tough time. This is why keeping a record is so important, explains Kate Rawlins of Helpful Digital.

Keeping note of the timing, decisions and motivation supporting why actions were taken is beneficial for three reasons:

Legal proceedings

Remembering finer details that lead to decisions being made six months, a year or four years ago is challenging task. Mix this with the pressure of being summoned to testify at an official enquiry and doubt may begin to cloud the ability to confidently recall supporting detail of noteworthy experiences. This is why it is so important to document key decisions and changes as they happen in a response. Succinct entries explaining who, what, when, why and how will help in recounting intricate past experiences.

Organisational recovery

Learning from successes and shortcomings in a crisis response is what makes an organisation more resilient. To do this, documenting what enabled for parts of the response to be successful, or led to other elements falling short is crucial. Understanding the context supporting actions is key to improving and retaining the desired outcome of a response. The recovery phase of a crisis is the time to understand and implement the learnings, however if experiences weren’t progressively documented during the responding phase, this will impact the authenticity of recommendations for the organisation to adopt moving forward.

Personal development

Working on a crisis response tests the boundaries of one’s comfort zone, emotional threshold, and professional ability. It is a time where, to a degree, everyone learns on the job. The value of the people working in a crisis cell is not in their experience, but their willingness to be receptive of learning from it. Recording moments of triumphs and frustrations, observations and reflections of performance, will make for a better future responder. Every experience not documented is a learning lost.

Kate has prepared a template to help get started. View it here 

Kate Rawlins, 01/01/2016
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