The Crisis Staffs become more virtual, Handelszeitung September 17th, 2020

Klaus Bockslaff The Expert on the sluggish digitalization of Crisis Management.

Article by Volker Richert

The digital “Frontrunner” would not be given to him at first glance. He was probably born too early for that. But when “Crisis Management” comes into play in the conversation, you quickly know why Klaus Bockslaff, who lives in Küsnacht, is one of the hidden champions of Crisis Management. An industry that is rarely in the limelight, but whose representatives act as discreet service providers and problem solvers in the background.

Klaus Bockslaff goes in and out of well-known companies. Whether car industry, energy providers, financial companies or public authorities: Without giving names, he talks about his practical experience and shows how to manage crises. “I already learned this during my military service on a German reconnaissance ship when we had direct contact with Soviet warships. Fortunately only with fender damage, without further casualties.”

Since then, crises have been his life. After studying law and business law, as a manager of insurance companies, as senior manager at Arthur Andersen (today Accenture) and
at EY he has helped companies in crises as head and consultant of many crisis teams in the financial and industrial sector.

Twenty years ago he then founded the company Verismo in Küsnacht, which has been part of the IT group IG Götsch in Zurich for two years and which he runs together with Mathias Götsch. In addition to IT Consulting, Software Development, IT Security and Crisis Management, the group offers seminars and works with Demios, a state-of-the-art Crisis Management Tool.

Efficiency and Speed

Bockslaff’s network of relationships is impressive and is also maintained in Corona times via webinars. This is where Crisis Managers from Germany, Switzerland and Austria meet. In Switzerland, Bockslaff is one of the founders of the Association for Crisis Communication VKK and promotes the standardization of Crisis Management in the Risk Management Association.

But what has changed in Crisis Management over time? Crisis Management has a lot to do with “focus and clarity of objectives,” says Bockslaff. “In the event of a crisis, it is important to keep a clear head in chaos, set up a crisis team, determine, assess and weight the situation – and then act on a solid basis.

What about efficiency and speed? “These are the challenges in a crisis,” he explains. And it was also his initiative to develop this area further through digitization. A study by Deloitte entitled “Corona crisis reveals: Swiss authorities are still in the early stages of digitization” shows that he is not wrong.

Are Swiss Crisis Managers blocking digital progress? He does not assess the situation so dramatically and analyzes: “The previous time-consuming analog work of many crisis teams is strongly anchored and it is difficult to convince the responsible persons that in the future this work can be supported by digital instruments and in the best case completely taken over.

The Human Factor

And the influence of Corona? “We have noticed in recent weeks that our digital path is well received by the professionals and our software is being tested.” What can the software do? “Demios 3.0 controls the entire Crisis Management Process, starting with the event recording and the evaluation of the event with regard to the hazard and damage potential, through information and alarm management to the actual crisis response work,” explains Bockslaff. It is now possible to organize crisis work outside the situation center, i.e. virtually. The location of the members of a crisis team no longer plays such an important role.

"The human factor remains the decisive success factor."

Klaus Bockslaff
Crisis Manager

The methodical approach of a leadership rhythm in civil defense or military staffs offers orientation with its structured sequence. He is convinced that “if this process is embedded in a programming as a structural element in Crisis Management and adapted for use in companies, support is created that provides decisive relief for the crisis team and the situation center.”

Something important, Bockslaff explains, must never be forgotten. “In Crisis Management, the human factor with its individual qualities remains the decisive success factor, even when a supporting tool is used and the best organizational foundations are in place.” In such a situation it is important that the acting persons are aware of their own behavior patterns under stress and remain team players. And, Bockslaff explains, of course special demands are made on the leader of a crisis team. “Then it becomes apparent whether the man on the bridge is a fair weather captain or whether you can sail through the stormy sea with a professional.”

The consultant in Klaus Bockslaff reports and shows once again why companies are well advised to prepare themselves organizationally and technically for coping with such crises and to draw the right lessons from their previous crisis work. In the end, the most important step should not be forgotten: “After the crisis is before the crisis. That is why the motto for the future will be: “Practice, practice, practice!