As you ready your organization to weather a crisis, you and your teams must determine the best ways to flatten your hierarchies and collapse your processes in response to any emergency. You must design protocols your teams can follow and decide the roles particular people will play. You may already have published some of these protocols, talked them over with key players and, in some cases, even trained teams to adhere to them. But when the crisis hits, are you certain they’ll all be able to do what they need to do? You won’t know until you rehearse.
The verb rehearse comes to English from the Old French rehercier, literally ‘to go over the ground.’ Human memory is predominantly visual, so the act of visually exploring any environment in which you will have to perform later is the ideal way to internalize the procedures that you and your team(s) need to learn.
Professionals in many fields do that routinely. Slalom skiers will walk down a slope many times before a race. Actors rehearse constantly, with their final gathering before a performance run as a dress rehearsal on stage. Soldiers schedule complex rehearsals of all proposed operations, often with largescale models of the terrain.
Rehearsing is the best way to move from general understanding of procedures to specific knowledge of actions. For all those with critical roles to play, a rehearsal will help move their intellectual understanding into instinctive response. In the digital age, when threats are so varied, perpetrators so concealed and attacks made with such speed and scale, rehearsal may well be the single-most important factor in your survival as an organization.