When a disaster occurs, an efficient crisis management makes the difference between bankruptcy and success

By their very nature, crises are stressful for both the employees and the persons defining the strategy in response to the disaster.  Without proper preparation, the decision making process is likely to fail due to a lack of reactivity, or on the contrary due to precipitation and wrong decisions.

The following example illustrates how important it is to be prepared to face a crisis:

Example of strong crisis management: the case SNCF[1]

For the SNCF (France’s national railway company), the year 2013 was marked by a major train disaster. On 12 July, an intercity train derailed around Brétigny train station, and crashed at 137 km/h (85 mph). Seven people were killed and sixty-one were injured. At the time, this accident due to a metallic part failure, put at stake SNCF’s image and credibility. However, the railway company deployed an efficient crisis management.

Only ten minutes after the disaster, SNCF’s CEO Guillaume Pepy is informed. Only 80 minutes later, he arrives on the disaster’s scene in order to assess the damage and make his first communication to the press. In addition to the sadness and empathy he expresses, many actions are implemented, such as:

  • A quick reaction of both SNCF and RFF (French company which owns the railway network) units crisis.
  • Quick and wide victims’ assistance and support (tool-free number for support, psychological support services, 300 SNCF employees sent on the disaster’s scene, etc.).
  • Initial traffic interruption followed by a fast resumption.
  • SNCF decision to assume its full responsibility.
  • Choice of a transparency policy, combined with actions such as launching of an accident’s investigation and security inspection of all the national railway network.

In the end, this accident has not damaged SNCF’s reputation regarding security.

SSI Crise Lexsi 2

The steps for a structured and efficient crisis management

An efficient crisis management is punctuated by five steps, from the disaster’s occurrence until an exit is found. These steps are as follows:


SSI Crisis Lexsi UK

This article is drawn from our cybercrime report “Crisis management” which provides detailed information on each of these five steps. This article provides the key features.

As illustrated within the previous chapter, communication is a key factor of success within the process of crisis management. This key feature is also detailed within the cybercrime report.

Crisis management can be considered as the head that would outline the frame for required actions in response to the crisis. In order to achieve the desired outcome, it is preeminent to conduct each one of the above steps in the right order. The cybercrime report “Crisis management” (from which this article is drawn) details each step, and also provides the keys to successfully manage a cyber-crisis.

Few keys for successfully managing a cyber-crisis

Unit crisis representation:

The persons in the crisis unit must represent all the company’s activities. Direction members and technicians must be included in this unit (as permanent or invited members).


LEXSI recommends that a strong leadership be appointed to stimulate debates and make decisions. These decisions must be based on a collegial analysis of the crisis unit.

During this collegial analysis, LEXSI does not recommend that set and final criteria be used. These criteria would in fact restrict their conclusions to given indicators. The crisis unit’s analyses must let go of these “barriers” to define actions that would appropriately match the situation.

Other categories of success factors:

In order to successfully face a cyber-crisis it is also essential to:

  • Build an appropriate crisis unit,
  • Develop awareness improvement,
  • Write and update the appropriate crisis documentation,
  • Conduct tests and crisis exercises,
  • Etc.
[1] Sources :