Home > The Monday Musings Column > learning from crisis management

learning from crisis management

Last month our fridge-freezer had a glitch just as we hit that warm spell. The fridge wasn’t cool enough and the freezer stopped freezing. The auto-defrost had iced up and we had to write off some of the contents, but I found a cure and we got it working again, and over the weeks since some weekly maintenance had kept it working well.

On the day that we had found the problem I bought bags of ice from a supermarket on my way home and we put one in each of the cool bags we use for summer shopping and they kept all the food that we could save cold while I fixed the fridge. During that evening we had gone to one of the local white goods stores just before closing and confirmed that suitable replacements were in stock and could be delivered in no more than 2 days.

We had to do a bit of mopping up and ate some odd combinations for two or three days to avoid throwing away more food than we had to, but we came through. Our crisis plan had worked and the inconvenience was minimal.

Last Thursday I was enjoying my tea and toast while reviewing the previous days BIFM judging notes when there was a loud bang. I could find nothing wrong and thought that maybe it was our new neighbours, but when I went to make another cup of tea and opened the ‘fridge there was no light inside; the beast was dead.

Electric checks confirmed that the power was there, but pulling the fridge out showed that we had had a serious failure. It was time to implement the recently tested crisis plan.

I went off to the office leaving the Berkshire Belle to use internet and/or ‘phone as necessary to sort out the replacement and promising to come home for lunch bearing bags of ice. When I did I found that we had a problem; the replacement was out of stock. Our kitchen had been custom built around our ‘fridge and some surgery would be required to accommodate whatever we could get.

Armed with a tape measure a quick trip to the store to identify the easiest acceptable option saw an order placed for delivery the following morning. The contents of the fridge and freezer were packed into the cool bags and left under the stairs, the coolest place in the house, and I spent the evening modifying the kitchen to take the new model.

The next morning I was up at 5.30 as usual and stepped into a puddle in the hall just by where the water main comes into the house. A quick check round the stop valve showed there was no leak, so where was the water coming from? I lifted the cool bags out of the way and got the mopping up done only to find that I now had a puddle in the kitchen. Yes, it was the cool bags. The ice bags I had bought this time were from a different store and they had all punctured and leaked as the ice melted. With the floor mopped and dried and the food drained and re-packed the new ‘fridge arrived (well done @Comet) and we were back up and working before lunch time.

A microcosm of a crisis at work, but the principle is the same. Even a practiced routine can be compromised so try and be prepared, not complacent, and you’ll probably come through. Managing a crisis is a skill that we all need, and sometimes the best lessons start at home.

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