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Q&A with the CEO of Avenu: Managing a Crisis and Preparing for Disruption

Through his work at Avenu, CEO Paul Colangelo has seen his fair share of major crises and provided invaluable guidance to cities and organizations looking to stay strong during a disruptive event.

What is the first priority for government entities and organizations worried about a crisis?

Maintaining a steady revenue stream while ensuring your employees are prepared to work under unprecedented conditions is key. Large scale crises directly threaten existing revenue structures. At the same time, work efficiency is undermined by disruptions to the normal work patterns. For these reasons, a crisis can easily overwhelm a poorly prepared organization. The very first priority has to be putting a plan in place to unlock new revenue and keep employees efficient.

How should organizational leaders approach crisis preparation?

The core task of a leader during a crisis is communication. You have to communicate well, both internally or externally, in order to weather disruption and thrive under conditions of uncertainty and change. Good communication is simply indispensable; even the most robust organizations will fumble a major crisis if they neglect to communicate.

What do organizational leaders need to know in order to prepare the most effective crisis communications?

Every organization today thrives on good data, and so internal data collection and data analysis are crucial to building up the specific knowledge base you need to act intelligently and communicate effectively. Organizations must perform internal risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities, and they must study and understand their own inner workings. Many government entities, for example, are sitting on hidden revenue simply because they don’t have the data available to identify lost tax revenue streams or discover regulatory non-compliance. Being equipped to unlock that hidden revenue could be lifesaving in a crisis situation.

What tools can organizations use to better prepare?

Automation is an invaluable tool in any organization’s toolbox. Automated revenue management systems and automated data analysis can both eliminate costly human errors and provide more transparent data. At the same time, automated systems can free up human work hours for more valuable labor and allow organizations to direct employees towards essential tasks during a crisis. And automated systems are disruption proof; good automation can mean the difference between success and failure where flexibility and continuity are key.

What other resources should organizations consider in preparing for a crisis?

I think that partnerships are an often overlooked and unduly neglected aspect for crisis preparation. Many third-party vendors can provide additional services at scale that can help an organization overcome any internal weaknesses or vulnerabilities. Public-private partnerships, and even public partnerships between governments or districts, enable resource sharing and coordinated problem solving at a level that can be vital when revenue is tight and the crisis presents unprecedented challenges.

What is your final takeaway?

In my many years of experience, one thing in particular has impressed itself upon me: most cities and organizations simply aren’t prepared for a crisis, and once a crisis happens, it’s almost always too late to start preparing. Organizational leaders have a responsibility to act early. That will mean making investments in infrastructure and technology. There’s simply no substitute for doing so.

Avenu Podcast Series Launched

Local Government Insights is now available on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Podcasts.