How would you summarise what DA does?

We at Deverell Associates advise on leadership and governance and provide executives and their teams with the tools to enable early identification and resolution of events that might otherwise develop into a crisis. Our approach to dealing with risk is to instill a corporate culture of ‘The Prepared Mind’. This culture is a function of good leadership and management.

What is DA’s core offering?

  • Advising on governance and leadership using the Mission Command model;
  • Providing the tools to help businesses handle risk systematically and effectively (including 
security assessments and Enterprise Risk Management plans);
  • Writing crisis and incident management plans for CEOs and their teams;
  • Educating all levels of management in how to use those plans;
  • Auditing and recommending improvements to ensure existing plans cover a full range of 
contingencies and the interests of all relevant stakeholders.
  • Writing and leading scenario-based interactive workshops on governance and crisis 

What is different about DA?

We build for our clients the capacity to deal with both reputational and operational risk, including the requirements of handling crises. We place this in the context of effective leadership and governance at all levels within an organization. We give leadership teams the capability to prevent incidents from developing into crises, as well as managing the situation after the event. We have first-hand and deep experience of handling a wide variety of potential and actual crises at home and abroad, for governments and for businesses. Finally, we have a strong network of top figures in the diplomatic, political, corporate, military and law enforcement sectors who can be crucial in helping our clients to navigate difficulties, both at home and in foreign jurisdictions.

How do you help on leadership and governance?

We work with clients to inspire good leadership and to build the associated values. Based on our very extensive leadership experience at all levels, both in commerce and in government service, we are well placed to advise, help and mentor. Governance is a key aspect of leadership on which we have recently fulfilled several contracts. Within that, helping to ensure compliance is important. Getting compliance right is partly a function of setting and obeying the regulations and partly a function of good leadership, effective governance and an appropriate ethos at all levels. The military’s concept of “Mission Command” provides a model for senior leadership to set out clearly across the whole business the intent and the constraints, to delegate responsibility and to train subordinate leaders to use initiative appropriately. From our experience, Mission Command is just as applicable to commerce and government as it is to the military. We therefore use that model in our leadership and governance work with clients. Through it, we help clients to examine accountability and responsibility. Within the context of leadership and governance we also advise on the implications of liability, the mechanisms for handling risk and how to ensure that the ‘shop floor’ escalates concerns upwards for timely handling and resolution.

 In your crisis work for clients, how would you define ‘crisis’?

A crisis is a situation that threatens reputation, family and business interests. It can take many forms. People often think of crisis from the perspective of their personal role. For them it might be a tax drama, a legal issue, an embarrassment on social media that could influence investors, or perhaps a cyber-attack that results in the leakage of sensitive information.

Dishonesty, oversight, negligence or poor handling of an incident are some of many possible causes for a crisis.

A crisis can have its roots in internal or external events, in perceptions or misperceptions.

We’ve never had a crisis we haven’t been able to handle – so why do we need DA?

We surveyed 800 companies. One in three of those companies had suffered a major crisis in the previous five years, sufficient to destroy their businesses. And one in three companies had no crisis plan at all. No entity, whether listed or private, family-based, charitable or commercial, is immune from crisis.

Our crisis plans are applicable to every form of crisis. They are tailored to the companies for whom we write them. Clients have used our plans in real situations and attest to their utility.

And those who don’t have one of our plans can regret it.

As an example, the board of a global printing company dismissed their CEO after a corrupt contract was revealed by a whistle-blower. This ex-CEO told us when we first met him some time after the event that the crisis could have been contained, and that he could have kept his job, if his company had had a plan written by us.

In all cases, the damage from a crisis can be limited by effective handling in a timely way. A plan will be required in order to make that possible. And that is where DA comes in.

Are your crisis services applicable before, during or after the event?

We started out by concentrating on fire-fighting crises after they had taken place. Over time our focus has shifted towards helping companies to protect themselves in advance of things going wrong. At the same time we have maintained our capability to help companies to deal with a live crisis and to put in place the procedures to prevent a repeat.

How do your crisis plans work and what do they look like?

Our plans enable CEOs to create the time and space to resolve the situation. They set out what needs to be done in advance of any adverse development. This includes clarity on defining and identifying a crisis, who is on the crisis team, their responsibilities, what information they need, who their stakeholders are and how those stakeholders should be engaged, and how and on what basis to communicate with external parties. All this is contained in one easy-to-read tailor-made document.

We run bespoke workshops to ensure that the plan is fully integrated into people’s understanding at all levels. We advise on rolling out and adapting the plan to lower levels of management. We provide guidance on the knowledge required at ‘shop-floor’ or ‘blue-collar’ level to ensure that concerns are elevated in a timely way to the crisis team.

For further detail on what our plans look like and how they are constructed, please click here.

We’ve got a plan for IT failure, cyber attacks and office evacuation. What more do we need?

Business continuity is about much more than ensuring IT resilience or having an alternate office location. Many companies organise problem solving into silos, yet when an incident in one of these silos escalates into a crisis the entire company is hit. The effectiveness of the response can be compromised because senior management will lack the oversight and the machinery to address the diverse needs of customers, stakeholders, suppliers and the legal, financial and reputational concerns. Herein lies the importance of our holistic approach – for relevant examples click here. And even if a company does have a crisis plan in place, it is often overly technical or infrequently reviewed and updated. In order to ensure that this is not the case with your company, we recommend that our senior consultants examine your existing plan with a view to making recommendations for improvement.

When was DA founded?

DA started three years ago. Our senior experts and consultants gained their first-hand experience of dealing with crisis over a much longer period.

What other services does DA provide?

  • Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) planning. We write ERM plans. These plans enable our clients to take an integrated and common approach to managing risk, bringing together all their business regions and functional disciplines within a unified framework. Thus an ERM plan helps our clients to categorise different sorts of risks, to recognise them early and to deal with them as part of their business decision-making processes, rather than as an afterthought or add-on as is so often the case. Our website explains here how we build ERM plans and why they are important.
  • Security. We are often asked to advise clients on physical security, and to help implement our recommendations. We differentiate ourselves as a security provider in that we look beyond ‘guards, guns and gates’ (the physical and tangible aspects of security). We enable our clients to consider reputational security, crisis management, business continuity and the requirements for effective leadership as part of a holistic security package.
  • Additional services through our Associates. We provide confidential expertise in a range of fields such as overcoming cultural barriers in new markets, human rights legislation, US & UK anti-bribery laws, IP protection and strategy; business intelligence; confidential diplomatic intervention; cyber security; media relations; and, negotiation and mediation.
  • Talks. Given his international standing in these areas, our CEO, John Deverell CBE, delivers presentations on leadership and governance, as well as talks on the Middle East. These reflect John’s very current experience in the region, including in some of the most topical and difficult countries.  John would be delighted to address your leadership team as part of a workshop or at a suitable company event. This could be in working hours or during a corporate dinner or other off-site event.