“When managing a major incident follow the sequence I.T.M.C”.
That is the best advice I ever received on dealing with major incidents, and it was from an old hand who was himself responsible for business continuity at the BBC.

This is what I.T.M.C stands for:

Start by defining the exact nature of the incident. If you don’t have the details get hold of someone who does. Conjecture at this stage leads to assumptions and bad decisions. Deal only in facts and confirm your sources. Ensure the information you are given is up to date.

Now you have the facts you can deduce the threat to your operation. Take a step back and work through the full breadth of the possible impact now and in the future. Brainstorming with your incident team is a good idea. Then, sort threats by impact, likelihood and the need for further clarification.

For each threat work out an appropriate mitigation. This is where the incident team earns it’s money. You may not be able to control the incident but you probably can mitigate the impact to your operation. Assign, activate and track the implementation of each action.

Now, communicate outwards. You may even choose to use the I.T.M.C format to structure your communication - it is after all what most in your organization will want to know. Effective communication radiating from the incident team reduces cross-talk and confusion at all levels.

Here's a tip. Write “I.T.M.C” on the top of the white board as soon as you convene your incident management team so as to be a constant reminder for the group to maintain logic and order.

Of course there’s much more to business continuity and major incident management. But if you find yourself dealing with a major incident, start with I.T.M.C. 

Last week I wrote about an image of Lara Croft (from Tomb Raider) which projected determination and focus. So what does it take to create this in yourself?

To have conviction you must know 100% what needs to be done AND why the outcome matters. But here’s the catch. It must matter to you. If it doesn’t then others will notice. If its not aligned to your core values then you won’t generate that infectious belief which connects and influences those around you.

As humans we have a complex set of (cheat detecting) internal processing mechanisms which evolved over thousands of years; knowing who to trust was vital for personal survival. Whist “not believing” may be a long way from “cheating” these finely tuned mechanisms unconsciously detect lapses in congruency. Given that content comprises less than 10% of face-to-face communication its not surprising our internal processes correlate words with visual and tonal signals. These non-verbal clues give away our internal thoughts and feels.

So what to do?

Start by getting to know what needs to be done (and why) by questioning everything. Step back and figure out what’s going to make the difference. Be ruthless to understand it’s value. Listen hard to understand its impact. What will it achieve, why is it needed, what would happen if it wasn’t done? What order does it need to be done in?

You understand it, but do you believe in it?

What happens if we logically understand the task but its not aligned to our values? Try reframing to find a different angle on the same subject. Find the angle that achieves the required outcome and aligns to your values. Reframing allows you to create a different view,  a different persecutive and a different mind set.

When we truly understand our objective and the outcome is aligned to internal values we have the opportunity to act with conviction. Having conviction shapes our words, our body language, our tone and how we react when questioned and challenged. When we are congruent we are powerful and, Like Lara, we may radiate determination and focus.

You have a choice. Do it with conviction, do it without conviction, don’t do it at all. Make it your choice and accept the implications.

Lara Croft, the gun toting female heroine of game and film, is back. This time she’s cast in more realistic female form than previous incarnations. “A good thing” I thought passing the time as I studied the billboard waiting on the Bakerloo line platform.

The billboard shows Lara close up and side on, left arm outstretched, fingers gripping a bow, right hand fully pulled back on the bowstring - arrow primed. The tautness of the muscles and the fix of the gaze grab your attention. Lara is ready and she means to show it. The observer is left in no doubt of Lara’s intention and focus. In that moment Lara projects a single-minded determination to achieve what must be done.

 Pondering this, as I waited for my train, I considered two things:

  • How do we create within ourselves the conviction of what must be done and commit to the mind set to achieve it?
  • Having set our minds to a goal how do we convey this resolution of purpose to others?

Why is this important? Because together they create a powerful message. I’m not talking about machismo, that is for boys pretending to be men. I’m talking about being congruent, aligned and utterly set on achieving your outcome in a way undeniable to those around you. When it happens you leave others in no doubt that you mean business. That is powerful, infectious and 100% influential.

So what does it take? I’ll talk about that next week.