Global Centre for Crisis and Resilience

Building resilience to position your business for success

A crisis situation can disrupt operations, damage reputations, destroy shareholder value, and trigger other threats. As the business community has learned through the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever for leaders to anticipate and plan for the possibility of an unplanned event. The more prepared you are to manage shocks, the less likely you’ll fall victim to serious harm, and you gain the muscle memory to build resilience for future threats.

84% of respondents have discussed the value of organisational resilience.

Source: PwC’s Global Crisis Survey 2021

Defining a crisis

As the world becomes more complex and connected, the threat of a corporate crisis grows. There are instances everywhere: a pandemic spreads worldwide, causing massive global business disruption and a public health disaster; a corruption scandal causes a corporate leader to step down; a data breach shakes customer confidence; quality issues trigger a widespread product recall. These are just a few examples among many.

Organisations face challenges that present varying levels of severity. But handled poorly, even a seemingly minor shock has the potential to escalate into a crisis that threatens the viability of a business.

There are different types of crises, and they can arise anywhere, anytime, for a myriad of reasons. Usually triggered by significant internal or external factors, every crisis has the potential to:

  • Cause enterprise-wide, multi-functional impacts
  • Disrupt normal business operations
  • Inflict reputational damage

All of this means the effect of a corporate crisis can be catastrophic — to brands, people, and the bottom line.

Confront a crisis head-on with good preparation and take advantage of opportunities

The way a company prepares and responds determines how it will recover from difficult situations, and whether it emerges stronger. Because crises tend to follow a similar pattern, no matter what the trigger is, proper preparation is possible – even for unforeseen events in particular.

Build resilience before a crisis hits

The more prepared an organisation is to manage a crisis, the more confidently it can avert existential threats in an emergency. PwC can support you with numerous measures to ensure you have all the tools you need in a crisis – from developing crisis plans and holding crisis training to creating an integrated crisis management program.

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Build confidence and take control

The right planning, targeted initiatives, and a clear strategy form the basis for coordinated and effective crisis management. PwC reviews, assesses, and refines your strategy and equips you with all the capabilities you need to respond effectively in times of crisis. These measures include setting up a crisis management group and leveraging the right data for making decisions. Core elements in a successful crisis response include:

  • Establishing a governance structure
  • Identifying central workstreams and owners
  • Establishing a clear approach and setting priorities
  • Basing crisis response decisions on facts
  • Thinking about upcoming risks and potential countermeasures

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Emerge from a crisis stronger, sooner, and more resilient

There should always be an eye to the future.

In the wake of any crisis, the most successful organisations are those that invested in learning lessons, implementing changes, and leveraging opportunities.

The effects of a crisis can often be long-lasting. As you recover, you stabilise your operations and adapt to a new “business as usual”. Your recovery from a crisis can become an opportunity for new growth. In order to seize these opportunities, you develop and implement new business strategies, reflecting and taking actions on the lessons learned. These actions will help your organisation become more resilient and have stronger capabilities for crisis management in the future.

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Respond to crisis and beyond 

It's not a matter of whether a crisis will hit. It's a matter of when.

In 2019, 95% of respondents to our Global Crisis Survey told us they expected to experience a crisis in the next two years.

Then COVID-19 emerged, spreading across the globe, disrupting health and business in a way the world has not seen in a century.

PwC has learned from multiple crises that the way business leaders prepare and respond to disruptive events can determine how well they recover and, ultimately, their ability to emerge stronger as a resilience organisation.

It's important for companies to take swift control of the crisis by mobilising a crisis response plan, stabilising business operations, and strategising for the future. PwC's Global Centre for Crisis and Resilience (GCCR) can support you through these critical waves of response and assemble multidisciplinary specialists across the PwC network to help you emerge stronger.

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Kristin Rivera, PwC's Global Crisis Centre Leader discusses how we have helped organisations respond to the impacts of COVID-19.

69% of respondents plan to increase their investment in organisational resilience.

Source: PwC’s Global Crisis Survey 2021

How PwC can help

Crisis management program design

Having a crisis plan is one thing, but to build and maintain preparedness, an integrated crisis management program is essential. Treating crisis management as a program — rather than just an occasional response to one-off incidents — puts you ahead of the curve when something goes wrong. Tailored for your culture and organisation, our approach also elevates your team’s awareness of risk and potential impacts to your brand. Establishing, communicating, and practicing an enterprise-wide response program helps organisations navigate crisis with confidence.

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Crisis plan development

When a crisis hits, there is no substitute for muscle memory. PwC’s 2019 Global Crisis Survey revealed, by a 2-to-1 margin, that organisations with a crisis response plan fared better post-crisis than those without. A crisis response plan is the foundation of an effective crisis management program: It provides structure and guidance to face the challenges of a significant unplanned event. We customise our approach to meet your expectations, needs, operating environment, and culture.

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Crisis training

In high-stress situations, people tend to revert to their lowest confidence threshold — which means that no matter how good your crisis plan is, it can prove ineffective if your team isn’t comfortable with their roles and responsibilities. Organisations that emerge stronger from a crisis invest time and effort to prepare their teams. By helping each responder understand their role and create plans for each potential scenario, our approach results in a more cohesive, confident response.

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Crisis exercises and simulations

Crisis exercises are powerful tools that build confidence in response capabilities and, according to PwC’s 2019 Global Crisis Survey, help organisations manage crises more effectively. Applying our approach, your team practices appropriate responses to various scenarios. In tabletop exercises, crisis responders participate in a timed simulation that helps to evaluate information collection, decision-making, prioritisation, brand implications, and other response challenges — in a setting that mimics the time pressures and information constraints of a real crisis. An added benefit: Your company tests cross-functional coordination among stakeholder groups and identifies areas for improvement.

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Ready Command

In a crisis, companies instinctively go into a reactive state: Whatever comes at you, you try to swat away. But playing defense doesn’t set you up to emerge stronger. Ready Command, PwC’s integrated crisis command centre, can help your organisation execute a methodical, strategic response, beginning on day one with the implementation of a clear governance structure. As you navigate the crisis, we continuously monitor and assess progress, recommending adjustments accordingly. Ready Command provides the foundation for you to prioritise and address each challenge — and emerge stronger.

Stakeholder mapping and engagement

In PwC’s 2019 Global Crisis Survey, nearly 40% of respondents ranked communicating with external stakeholders among their top three areas of vulnerability. Stakeholder mapping and engagement provides a framework to identify your stakeholder population, assess their impact and influence, and create opportunities to engage with them before or during a crisis. The result is a forward-thinking, unified approach that can turn stakeholders into allies.

Crisis strategy and scenario planning

An outside perspective to poke holes in the right places can be a valuable asset. Our crisis strategy and scenario planning approach involves working with you to hypothesise potential outcomes, to draft approaches to mitigate their impacts, and to help you emerge confidently prepared to address any curveball that might come your way. The framework allows you to respond to immediate needs while looking ahead to mitigate possible strategy-derailing events.

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Strategic crisis coordination

When an organisation faces a challenging situation, it can be tough to step back and take a holistic view while also putting out constant fires. Strategic crisis coordination instills project management with the adaptability required to address a complex crisis. Our approach establishes clear governance, aligned workstreams, and data-driven analysis, combined with a strategic view of risks and opportunities that may be around the corner.

Strategic crisis response

Crisis can be a catalyst to drive strategic transformation, but success depends on an effective and coordinated response. You must respond to a burning fire while you continue to run the business, and simultaneously plan ahead for other unanticipated disruptors. The ability to manage a crisis through these discrete lenses takes practice. Having support to guide you through potential scenarios can be a meaningful way to put out the fire — and to seize opportunity. Our strategic approach to crisis response draws on decades of experience at the forefront of some of the most highly publicised corporate crises. We know what works, and we’ll apply that knowledge to your organisation’s circumstances and help you emerge stronger.

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Business resilience

Withstand disruption, sustain core business functions, respond effectively, reduce impact

Disruption is inevitable. What matters is an organisation's ability to emerge stronger from crisis, fueled by an enterprise-wide foundation of business resilience. We measure that ability in four fundamental pillars:

  • Technology and operational resilience: Sustain core business functions and the availability of key technology
  • Financial resilience: Withstand financial shocks to liquidity and assets
  • Data resilience: Secure the availability, integrity, and confidentiality of critical data
  • Workforce resilience: Maintain an available and productive workforce

A mature organisation is able to maintain a state of informed preparedness, continue essential mission critical functions despite a disruption or outage, execute response procedures to the extent possible during a disruption, and leverage knowledge from previous disruptions to enhance business resilience processes.

To help your organisation get there, PwC's approach involves a holistic strategy that applies several core resilience competencies:

  • Disaster Recovery
  • Incident Management
  • Physical Security
  • Emergency Response

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After action review

Organisations that have experienced a crisis understand that no matter how they responded, there’s always room for improvement. Performing an after action review is a meaningful exercise — for your team and for your stakeholders, who will recognise your emphasis on continuous learning.

The review yields insights that enable your team to identify and prioritise actionable enhancements.

And depending on the nature of the crisis, ‘real-time’ or ‘in-flight’ reviews can also be beneficial, particularly if you’re dealing with a long-term situation that requires course-correction along the way.

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A global leader makes all the difference

A crisis can be catastrophic to your business — or it can reveal the strength, quality, and resilience of your organisation. Critically, the time to manage a crisis is before it hits. But if you've never weathered the chaos of a serious disruption, how do you prepare? In the thick of your response, how do you know your strategy is working effectively? And how can you be confident in your ability to turn crisis into opportunity?

That's where working with a global leader in crisis management makes all the difference.

Experience: Bringing ours — and enhancing yours​
From corporate scandals to cyber breaches to pandemics, we bring enormous breadth and depth of experience to help clients prepare for and respond to crises. Our team of specialists across the globe knows what works, and we refine our approach continuously to meet the needs of your business and the changing nature of crisis. We apply that battle-tested experience to strengthen your response and help you emerge stronger.

Coordination and operations: Crisis planning is more than messaging
Seamless coordination and efficient operations are the factors that drive success — for your crisis response, and for your ability to run your business throughout the crisis. Our solutions help you focus on the critical elements of coordination and operations, enabling you to prepare and respond in a holistic manner grounded in facts.

A data-driven, technology-enabled approach to crisis
Our innovative tools can help you identify blind spots that could obscure a wider perspective and hamper your response. And our tools can act as a vital early-warning system — in the crucial first minutes of a crisis when quick action could forestall long-lasting consequences. These tools will help to reveal gaps in your preparation and response, and potentially turn unwelcome surprises into strategic opportunities.

A holistic crisis program based on crisis-tested methodologies
The adaptable framework of our holistic crisis management program means you can scale it to any type of incident. We deploy innovative, tested methodologies, drawn from our experience and enriched by data on crisis-management scenarios. With PwC, you’ll be able to anticipate and respond to the challenges and opportunities of unexpected events — and emerge stronger.


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Contact us

Dave Stainback

Dave Stainback

Global Crisis & Resilience Co-Leader, PwC United States

Tel: +1 678 419 1355

Bobbie Ramsden-Knowles

Bobbie Ramsden-Knowles

Global Crisis & Resilience Co-Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7483 422701