Writing Exercise: Crisis Within an Organization

This is part two for yesterday’s writing exercise. The described company in yesterday’s blog post now needs analysis on how it would handle a crisis of some kind. From a communication standpoint, here is the analysis of the company’s ability to handle a crisis.

Critical events can strike businesses and organizations at any given time on a multitude of levels. These events can take the form of recalled products, change of ownership, technological fails, ethical violations, financial collapse, and many more. In the case of Smith Systems Consulting, Inc. (SSC), a company wholly dedicated to providing state of the art technology, a technological catastrophe of any magnitude would severely cripple the company. The strategy and tactics used by all levels of SSC during that critical event dictates the potential harm or reparation that happens as a cause of those events.

Technology is the centerfold of SSC. The products and services provided by the company are all technological and based around the internet, computers, servers, routers, and databases. While each individual business that purchases SSC’s products will have onsite servers and networks, SSC’s intranet and internal operations are run through a local network on the SSC company grounds. Their website services host domains from a secure server location in Phoenix, Arizona.

Technology is a volatile tool that requires impassable security and constant vigilance. If an aspect of SSC’s technology becomes compromised, communication would become nonexistent for the company. Using the onsite network and server as an example shows how communication within SSC might crumble during a technological crisis. This is one of the larger faults of the organization’s methods of communicating.

SSC sends out service requests, performs the financial aspects of the company, and communicates wholly through the internet and company intranet. Pending one of the servers going down, it is unfortunately assumed that all the company’s communications come to a halt. No back up plan for this type of contingency exists, and the company would find itself in great peril.

Communication between employees, employee and employers, and any kind of management is a fickle aspect of any business. It is believed that interpersonal communication is at the very apex of a business’ operations and morale. If the company faces a technological crisis, the core of SSC’s communication dies. If that belief is to be instituted, it is possible that the operation and morale of the company dies because interpersonal communication will be dead. The entire communication climate of the company is at risk when their servers and networks fail. Interpersonal communication within the company differs, especially since most of the technicians and employees work individually. In fact, response to a service request takes place entirely through the company’s intranet rather than face to face with another employee.

Given that most of their communication takes place via onsite servers, diversity and power do not play a heavy role at SSC. The work at SSC is not necessarily a creative avenue of expression. The technology behind their services is mathematical, logical, and precise. Because of this, the perception of power is relatively quelled in all aspects of the business. Technicians answer to the heads of their departments, and the heads report to the managing partners, which then report to the Chief Executive Officer. Employee to employee communication is mainly absent.

This also means that a contingency plan for communication is imperative for the company. Some scholars believe that open communication between all levels of a company needs to be implemented in order to maintain organization during chaos. SSC needs to implement a plan that allows for the company to safely and successfully communicate during a crisis, especially one involving technology. Scholars recommend strategies like fire drills and emergency protocols. SSC needs to set up a plan that helps facilitate communication between all branches of the company during a technological failure. This will ensure that information regarding the failure can be addressed immediately and effectively while maintaining crisis knowledge among all employees.  

This plan works especially well with the finance and accounting department. That department only works on the company premises under secure servers and in small cubicles that ensure privacy and security. During a technological collapse of any kind, this department needs to be kept apprised of every aspect of the critical event. With the financial records of employees and clients kept on those servers, any compromise is essential information that needs proper storage and safe keeping.

Several communication theories are present throughout the company. Those theories are proxemic theory, actor-network theory, and general systems theory. Different aspects of each theory take shape within the inner workings of SSC, but each theory has its own effect. These theories are technically sound in principle but lack the full pizzazz needed to fully change the landscape of the organization’s success.

Proxemics are the study of how nonverbal communication helps individuals perceive and utilize free space to accomplish similar work-related goals. The workspace for technicians and employees of SSC are small and secluded. While this is dictated by the company for security, it also limits the employees and their ability to communicate interpersonally. Employees, regardless of their ethnicity, race, age, or gender inherently inhabit a certain amount of space because the other employees do so as well.

The actor-network theory is also noticeable within SSC. SSC’s success and overall work is not the result of one person and his or her influence on the company. While the company was founded by several people, SSC is known for its products and what those products represent. Actor-network theory usually centers around inventions, but SSC is a successful business that develops and utilizes successful networks and servers. Those creations are made by individual technicians but recognized as creations of SSC and all outlying factors.

The final theory is general systems theory. General systems theory is defined as a machine with inner workings and moving cogs of individual entities that can be analyzed and broken down to help complete an overall whole. While SSC has very few departments within the organization, they are all essential to the products and services of SSC. Those individual departments can also be broken down and analyzed to figure out how they help power the company. Understanding that breakdown is imperative to understanding why SSC is as successful as it is.

All three theories play such a heavy role in the company that it is vitally important for SSC to realize how they affect the company. This holds especially true in the situation of a technological collapse or failure. Interpersonal communication is limited to the company intranet, and new employees might sense the small workspaces and constrained access to certain aspects of the company. All employees need to understand that while most of them work independently, they are one small cog in a much larger machine. If they do not complete their work efficiently and competently, the entire machine could stop working.

When a company that revolves around technology suddenly finds the technology failing or corrupted, a myriad of issues plague the profits and functions of the business. Such is the case with SSC. Without effective and secure technology, SSC finds itself completely out of business. Technicians would not have servers or websites to develop and maintain. Members of the finance and accounting department suddenly cannot maintain, distribute, or employ the money for the company. Employees completely rely on the company intranet, which is run on internal networks and servers, for communication and job duty. All of that becomes completely null and void with a technological crisis. Several communication theories are present in the company, but no strategy or plan is in place to help facilitate any form of communication if the company’s technology fails or becomes compromised. SSC wholly relies on their technology to flourish. Without it, the foundations of the company would crumble and fall.

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