How to Prepare for Your Next Network War Room Debate - Part 2
October 24, 2018

Jay Botelho
LiveAction

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Whether proactive or reactive in nature, war room sessions fundamentally come down to problem solving. But the ultimate goal is to eliminate these sessions altogether.

Start with How to Prepare for Your Next Network War Room Debate - Part 1

However, sometimes problems still happen no matter how proactive you are. If you have to go to the war room, and you want to win, here are some key tips:

Populate the room wisely and sparingly

The old adage about the bigger the group, the less work gets done certainly holds true for the war room. You want all critical functions represented, but with a single representative. If someone needs access to their teams for more details, they should report back, not drag more participants into the meetings.

Define roles and responsibilities

Clearly define roles and responsibilities for the war room. In most cases, the primary responsibility is to develop a comprehensive proposal to present to executive management. When done well, the execs shouldn't even need to participate. The right team should be able to deliver a rock-solid proposal, regardless of whether the driving force is project-focused or response-focused.

Bring data

Bring all the data you have and be prepared to share it. There are no secrets in the war room. All corporate politics must be put aside for a successful resolution. Remove blinders regarding available data. For example, when dealing with a security issue, don't forget to involve the network team. They often have critical data that's overlooked, at least in the beginning of the situational analysis.

Know the end game

Have an idea of the ultimate win-win outcome before you enter the war room. This is probably easier when the situation is project-focused vs. response-focused, but it's critical either way.

Involve PR experts

Involve PR experts for events that will impact the external perception of the brand. This is extremely important when dealing with response-focused issues, especially security breaches. External communication is a legal requirement for security breaches, and you need to get it right. It's the responsibility of the entire team to craft an accurate and complete response, but it's best for all communication to funnel through a single PR representative.

Plan to communicate only once

Analyze ALL the data and get the full extent of the problem isolated as early as possible. Communicate as clearly as you can. A great example of what not to do would be the Equifax breach, where the initial breach announcement was made approximately 6 weeks after discovery, with news of ever-greater exposure continuing to be reported by Equifax for more than 6 months.

War rooms can be intimidating places with lots of finger pointing, blame and chaos. For the network team, having the proper visibility tools in place is a win-win. First, it helps reduce these sessions, and second, if called in to answer the bell, it gives you the data needed to properly contribute and help solve the problem quickly. When the fingers start pointing, will you be ready?

Jay Botelho is Director of Engineering at LiveAction
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