Lessons in Crisis Management

Posted on September 21, 2020

Headshot of CeCe Ridder

This article was written by CeCe Ridder, City of Beaverton, Public Engagement Division Manager. CeCe wrote this article as part of the Crisis Management Cohort with Drucker Institute. Read all the articles from the cohort here. Connect with CeCe on email or LinkedIn.

My name is CeCe Ridder and I am the Public Engagement Division Manager for the City of Beaverton in Oregon. I have been in my position for a little over a year. The programs that I manage are marketing, events, community services, cultural inclusion, arts, mediation, and neighborhoods. An interesting tidbit about my city, we are hiring our very first City Manager over the course of the next year. 

There have been many useful tools that I have discovered and discussed over my time in the Crisis Management Cohort. Asking the question about what matters most, and aligning it with a solid mission is going to be invaluable to future strategic planning and budget conversations. In my division of Public Engagement, we plan to use the questions of mission and mattering in an upcoming leadership retreat. It is such a solid base for returning back to what we might have to cut in the middle of a crisis and gives us something to return to over and over when we need to make hard decisions. 

I also found the Planned Abandonment exercise insightful. We listed out things to stop doing, as well as programs and services that may need the time and attention at the moment (and does that also mean that we should consider phasing them out). In the times of a crisis, planned abandonment is such a helpful tool. If we stop doing things and find that we may not return to them (programs, events, policies etc) it can push us to make long-overdue decisions. What mission and customer-centered outcomes would be lost were great questions, and what resources might be freed up. Often times we hold on to traditional programs because we have always done them. However, that does not mean that we should continue doing them, and should not occasionally evaluate their usefulness. In the age of technology and new ways of doing things (think remote work), we have discovered that sometimes the old ways, aren’t the best ways. 

We also had a fascinating discussion about who are the city’s primary customers. I found this to also be a good exercise in determining where we put our focus. In a crisis, if we aren’t clear on whether the focus should be on businesses (eg. Emergency assistance, outdoor seating options for restaurants, etc) or residents (eg. eviction assistance) we can get lost in decision making. Do businesses make our community better and should we ensure they are successful? Absolutely. But, people are also the core of local government and why we elect people who represent us well. We must also take care of that aspect and create a healthy and thriving city.

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