“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. 

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