DARWIN Resilience Management Guidelines (DRMG)

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1. DRMG approach, principles and objectives

The DRMGs are

  • The DRMGs are guiding principles to help or advice a certain organisation* in the creation/assessment/improvement of its own guidelines/procedures.
  • The DRMGs are guiding principles to help or advice a certain organisation in developing a critical view on its own crisis management activities (management of resources, procedures, training, etc.) based on resilience management concepts.
  • The DRMGs can be complementary to existing guidelines/procedures/practices in a certain organization, but they do not replace them.
  • The DRMGs are intended/directly addressed to for policy makers, decision makers and managers at different levels in a organization. They can only indirectly affect the activities of front line operators or first responders in crisis management.

The DRMGs are not

  • The DRMGs are not prescriptive.
  • The DRMGs are not intended to replace guidelines/procedures already existing in a certain organization.
  • The DRMGs are not directly addressed to front line operators or first responders in crisis management (although their activities will be indirectly impacted by the DRMGs, if their practices and procedures have been revised or designed based on the DRMGs).

 * organisation, in this context, is a private or public company, an authority or government agency either at international, national or local level

2. Supporting coordination and synchronisation of distributed operations

At the time of a crisis, first responders of different organisations (e.g., fire-fighters, medical teams, police officers, civil protection staff, etc.) need to collaborate to operate effectively and safely while minimising losses. The guidelines described under this theme propose various interventions aimed at enhancing resilience management processes before, during and after crises in order to better support distributed operations.

2.1. Promoting common ground for cross-organizational collaboration in crisis management

In order to collaborate effectively at the time of a crisis, the people jointly involved in crisis management from different organizations need to have sufficient understanding of their mutual goals, expectations, capabilities, and operational procedures. This common ground can be achieved by promoting periodic information sharing activities or exercises involving the staff of different first responder organizations.

Cross-organizational activities are organised and include:

  • Cross-fertilisation dissemination workshops
  • Periodic visits of own staff to facilities of other organisations
  • Joint crisis preparation exercises in order to address potential sources of joint activity breakdowns


  • Staff gains useful insights into the mission, culture and operating methods of other organisations involved in crisis management
  • Exercises provide an opportunity to own staff to learn about the resources and procedures of other relevant organisations
  • Exercises can be helpful for the identification of potential synergies

Improved collaboration among organizations in case of crisis, based on better understanding of each other's perspectives and needs.

The joint initiatives mandated by this card presupposes the availability of:

  • Sufficient commitment by the senior managers of the involved organisations;
  • Sufficient mutual trust and existence of communication channels across organisations.

In addition, a prerequisite for the application of the actions described in the card is the existence of a network of organisations already collaborating in crisis management activities. If each organisation is mostly operating in isolation and no mutual relationships have been established beyond those mandated by the law, it is advised to first apply the principle of the CC 2.2 Establishing networks.


2.2. Establishing networks for promoting inter-organizational collaboration in the management of crises

Establishing pre-crisis relationships between the organizations that may be jointly involved in managing a crisis, paves the way for more effective collaboration and communication; building trust and create professional relationship across organisations during and post crisis responses.

A five-step protocol is recommended to establish effective inter-organizational collaboration across the relevant organizations that may have to work together in a crisis situation.

Successfully establishing collaboration network will create opportunities for:

  • establishing a common ground among different organizations,
  • building trust and creating personal relationship
  • defining agreements for a periodic coordination and continuous crosschecking of the respective roles and responsibilities in the management of a crisis.

Improved ability to respond, adapt and learn from a crisis, thanks to a more effective inter-organizational collaboration and communication, both during and after the concerned crisis.


  • Existence of internal risk management framework sensitive enough to identify scenarios in which inter-organisational crisis collaboration may be needed.
  • Continuous commitment of senior management over the practices mandated by this guideline.


2.3. Sharing information on roles and responsibilities among different organizations

Stakeholders involved in resilience management need to have clear idea of roles and responsibilities who may be involved in the management of a potential crisis. Each organization should have an adequate knowledge not only of its own roles and responsibilities, but also of those of other organizations they may be required to collaborate with during a crisis. This is vital in order to identify gaps and cooperate before, during and after a crisis.


  • Coordination between different organizations with shared responsibilities in the management of specified crises, to ensure mutual awareness regarding who should do what.
  • High-level procedure identifying points of contact, roles and responsibilities to be periodically checked with dedicated coordination activities.
  • Dissemination of the shared procedure internally to each organization with dedicated training activities.
  • When possible, design of a quick-reference version of the procedure.


  • Periodic coordination ensures shared procedure to be maintained up to date, also after changes in individual organizations.
  • Preparation of each coordination activity by relevant stakeholders increases awareness on who should do what inside each organization and trigger specific training activities.
  • Shared procedure and, when possible, the quick-reference version of it, make easier to quickly recall or retrieve relevant information on what to do during a crisis, with special reference to the interfacing with other organizations.

Improved “readiness to act” in case of crisis.


  • Network of agencies/organizations for which it is possible to identify at least at high level shared responsibilities in the management of specified crises
  • Illustrative example: use and maintenance of the “Manuale Rosso” (Red Manual) adopted by different entities with shared responsibilities in the management of emergencies at the Fiumicino Airport (Rome-Italy).


3. Managing adaptive capacity

3.1. Enhancing the capacity to adapt to both expected and unexpected events

Emergency situations occur suddenly and without warning. Therefore, organizations must be prepared and adapt their functions to respond to emergency events as quickly as possible. Among those situations, some of the events are expected while others, could be unexpected with different nature. Roles, training, strategies, and procedures must be in place to provide such capacity, using an all-hazards approach which considers the common denominator of emergency situations in different areas, building a generic response plans that can be adapted to a specific event.

Response plans should be based on everyday operations, and designed in line with the all-hazard approach, distinguishing between core components of response plans and specific elements of each scenario. In addition, it is important to appoint of a person in charge of the emergency field and, together with managers, of the definition of roles and responsibilities of involved actors, as well as the coordination with relevant partners.

Endorse familiarity of actors and personnel with response plans, together with conducting drills and exercise routinely, advance flexibility in building and applying plans; enhanced capability to interpret the real situation, to work out interventions accordingly, and enhanced capacity to adjust procedures in progress.

Organizations that build their response plans based on both everyday activities as well as the all-hazard approach, may increase their adaptive capacity to handle emergency situations by:

  • Enhancing the ability of organizations to build response plans for a wide range of emergency scenarios in a comprehensive way;
  • Increasing familiarity of actors with actions that should be conducted during emergency;
  • Simplifying the understanding of actors with rational of response plans;
  • Managing the emergency situation comprehensively, identifying the changing characteristics of the event;
  • Facilitating ways to deal with more complex incidents and emergencies potentially involving more than one type of hazard.

The implementation of response plans during an emergency situation is a key factor in handling unexpected situation. Therefore, organizations are expected to build response plans in a comprehensive way, paying attention to a wide range of emergency scenarios. In addition, familiarity of personnel with plans and their rational may increase implementation during emergencies.


3.2. Establishing conditions for adapting plans and procedures during crises and other events that challenge normal plans and procedures

Often, crises challenge the plans and procedures in place. As a result, organisations need to support and maintain a clear and legitimate space of manoeuvre relative to normative plans and procedures. Such space is important for actors engaged in crisis response in order to adapt to unusual (unanticipated) circumstances. After training or real events, investigating why these adaptations occur can feed the processes of revision of checklists, procedures and policies.

The guideline proposes interventions before, during and after crisis, distinguishing:

  1. Issues related to the nature of plans and procedures in the organization and how much flexibility they provide by design.
  2. Issues of authority and legitimacy of deviation in the face of existing plans and procedures (normative base) organizations expect operators to comply to.
  3. Issues of skills and expertise at the individual, team or organization levels, related to the capability to accurately assess the situation, and act in it, when plans and procedures are not obviously available to support operations.
  4. Issues of organizational learning when adaptations performed highlight the gaps and limitations related to the two previous aspects.


  • Improves understanding of adaptive capacity when exercised in the context of normative base and expectations of compliance.
  • Supports justification and legitimacy of resilient operation as deviation from normative preparations and plans.
  • Provides a basis for accountability, thereby facilitating authority and trust to enforce resilient operation according to needs (as perceived by Resilience Management), while deviating from the normative base
  • Contributes to a higher degree of predictability of which actors may be involved and when, as well as what they may do and how. In turn, it also contributes indirectly to an increased mutual understanding and calibrated mutual expectations among the actors.

Enhanced resilience, in complement to plans and procedures

During a crisis or emergency, it cannot be assumed that the AC can be managed in a detailed manner in terms of strict delegation or managerial approval at every breaking point. The foundation for trust is primarily laid down before in terms of training and rehearsal on the normative base and on different degrees of deviation according to need or severity of the situation, and after in terms of after-action-reviews or other activities of reconstruction in which the reasons for deviations are critically examined. Nevertheless, during a crisis, a capability of keeping track of the breaking points, preserving the essential cues for reviews, is also valuable.


3.3. Managing available resources effectively to handle unusual and changing demands

To better handle the unusual and changing demands of crisis situations and achieve critical objectives, organisations need to be able to use available resources effectively, sometimes creatively, and potentially to bring in additional resources. For the purposes of this card, resources refer to human resources, such as personnel in various roles and divisions of an organisation, as well as to material or immaterial resources, such as equipment and tools. In other words, to anything that is necessary or useful in order to accomplish the tasks at hand.

Supporting the effective management of resources includes three main types of interventions:

  • Identifying the resources required: their types and amount necessary to respond to a given crisis, and where they exist, within or beyond the regular team, department and organisation
  • Ensuring the conditions exist to request, include or reallocate these resources
  • Assigning resources to objectives


  • additional resources can help address a difficulty within a shorter time than usual
  • the involvement of outside experts can support organisation personnel with addressing a problem that falls outside of their established expertise and knowledge

Through implementing interventions proposed here, an organisation will develop plans and strategies to better use its resources and leverage external ones during crises.


  • The interventions require that appropriate coordination and synchronisation have been implemented
  • The strategies discussed require that organisations are willing to temporarily relax some objectives and assign resources to other tasks


4. Assessing resilience

Defining, assessing and comparing resilience are the first steps in resilience management. In the context of community resilience, for instance, the ability to measure the concept is increasingly being seen as a key step toward disaster risk reduction.

4.1. Assessing community resilience to understand and develop its capacity to manage crises

The assessment and monitoring of community resilience prior to, during and after the occurrence of crises allows policy makers to establish interventions and plans in collaboration with community leaders and members, in order to ensure communities will be better able to manage and recover from future events.


  • Initial resilience assessment to identify the weaknesses and strengths of the communities under their responsibility and implementation of subsequent intervention plans, followed by new assessments in order to identify the impact of the intervention plans on the community
  • Monitoring an assessments to understand the impact of the emergency situation on the community members
  • Measuring community resilience after the emergency situation to understand the long term impact of the emergency, as well as the recovery process


  • Measuring CR during routine time in the pre-emergency period enables to create a “baseline score” which is presumed to be useful as a reference point for comparison during a crisis period
  • Monitoring readiness and measuring the resilience prior to, during and after the emergency situation, reflects the internal resources of the community.


  • Better understanding of the community’s capacity to adapt to crisis events.
  • Enabling maximisation of the community's ability to cope better with extreme situations and reduction of the impact of crises and disasters.
  • Strengthening of the community as a functioning system active in crisis management.

Decision makers have to integrate community resilience assessment in working programs and budget allocation during routine periods.


4.2. Identifying sources of resilience: learning from what goes well

One of the aims of Resilience Engineering is to learn from the everyday performance and from successful operations, rather than by only through lessons learned after failures. In line with this, identifying Sources of Resilience means investigating the mechanisms by which organizations successfully handle expected and unexpected conditions. Such mechanisms (e.g., strategies, processes, tools) allow the organization to adapt, perform and deliver required services in spite of the variability and complexity they experience in their operations. This adaptive capacity can be recognized by looking at the work-as-done, both in daily operations and unusual or exceptional scenarios, in order to identify sources of resilience and to learn from what goes well.

Identifying successful resilience includes answering a number of triggering questions in relation to different aspects of crisis management: work-as-done/daily operations, goal trade-offs, adaptive capacity, coupling and interactions.


  • Providing a deepened understanding of everyday performance, in order to learn from not only failures but also from successful operations.
  • Learning from what goes well during normal operations in safety critical work as well as incidents and crises can lead to better preparedness and learning and thus increased resilience.


  • Build knowledge of crisis situations as well as of everyday operations.
  • Enhanced resilience based on amplified sources of resilience.


  • Organizations need to have an open view on flexibility and adaptation related to use of procedures focusing on understanding challenges and strategies.
  • Organizations need to invest in the understanding of everyday operations in order to be better prepared for crisis situations. Resources for building up and maintaining this understanding need to be allocated, an investment with the purpose of retaining, enhancing or amplifying the organization's (or, organizations') resilient capabilities. This means among other resources that time needs to be available from experts to share their views on the functioning of the system, as well as facilitators or analysts (possibly experts on resilience management) that are able to analyse and compile this knowledge so that the organization may learn from it in a methodological manner.
  • It may generally be easier to analyse and understand the properties that make systems resilient of more tractable systems, meaning systems (organizations, networks, domains, etc.) with known functioning that do not change faster than it takes to describe them. More persistent organizations such as in Air Traffic Management and Health Care are complex and dynamic, and therefore never fully tractable, but these may be easier to analyse than for example ad hoc on-site disaster relief organizations on the disaster site, which may both be created and changed very quickly.


4.3. Noticing brittleness

The interventions proposed here aim to support organisations to identify sources of brittleness in order to invest in their correction.

Brittleness is experienced in situations of goal conflicts and trade-offs, or when there is a competition for resources and a need to establish priorities under time pressure. Other difficulties emerge when an organisation struggles to manage functional interdependencies between different parts of the same organisation, or when there is insufficient buffer capacity to provide additional resources. Noticing brittleness also means observing operational variability and comparing work-as-done with work-as-imagined, so to reveal how the system might be operating riskier than expected. In addition, brittleness manifests itself when the organisation is unable to learn from past events, such as near misses and accidents.


  • Development of actors’ resilience-related knowledge and skills to notice how brittleness occurs in certain conditions
  • Implementation and conduction of phase-specific activities within organisation to probe for and/or notice brittleness


  • Reading groups, workshops and similar activities help operators and managers develop the skills to notice and discuss brittleness.
  • Scenario-based, game-inspired methods allow for the gathering of various perspectives about brittleness and potential solutions.
  • Methods and tools to collect information during crises allow for their analysis after the fact.


  • Improved capability to identify and discuss factors that make the organisation brittle in certain conditions, for all phases of crisis management, based on input from actors at all levels.
  • Better identification of potential measures to reduce brittleness, thereby enhancing resilience.
  • Improved preparedness and prevention of crisis situations.


  • The organisation is willing to invest resources to understand and address pitfalls, even if they have not yet manifested in catastrophic outcomes.
  • Specific actors in the organisation serve as facilitators / champions in the process.
  • The organisation is developing a culture beyond traditional risk and safety management.


5. Developing, revising and conducting training

6. Developing and revising procedures and checklists

6.1. Systematic management of policies

Policies are a form of statements of intent and are often used to guide decision making throughout all levels of operation within in both public and private organizations. Policies are not static documents, but evolve with the organization and must thus be managed. The purpose of Systematic management of policies is to support structured development and management of policies for dealing with emergencies and disruptions characterized by occurrence of emerging risks and threats. The aim is to achieve adaptive and holistic policy management involving policy makers and operational personnel, both within public and private organizations. Note, that when this capability card is used by operational personnel, it rather refers to systematic management of plans, procedures or checklists.


  • Systematic coordination and dialogue between policy-makers (who design, review, validate and sign off regulations, procedures and policies), and operational personnel (who select, use, apply or follow regulations, procedures and policies), within and between different organizations on the use of policies.
  • Establish a process to (re-)design policies based on lessons identified.


  • Actual policy use and compensating strategies can be explored and understood by addressing these in thematic workshops or focus groups, observational studies, and evaluations of (simulated) events, before and after crises.
  • Problems that operational personnel have with policy use during a crisis may be resolved through the availability of policy makers/experts that can be contacted for clarification or policy conflict resolution.


  • Actual policy use and compensating strategies can be explored and understood by addressing these in thematic workshops or focus groups, observational studies, and evaluations of (simulated) events, before and after crises.
  • Problems that operational personnel have with policy use during a crisis may be resolved through the availability of policy makers/experts that can be contacted for clarification or policy conflict resolution.


  • Openness to have discussions across hierarchical levels, domains, organizations, or borders.
  • A legal framework allowing the development of joint policies.


7. Involving the public in Resilience Management

7.1. Communication strategies for interacting with the public

The response of the general public that is potentially affected by a crisis, or could be helpful in resolving a crisis, has an impact on the outcome of the crisis response work. Therefore, organizations need to develop and implement communication strategies for Interacting with the public that can help facilitate beneficial responses to crises and crisis response efforts. Communication and interaction with the public during a crisis will be facilitated if daily communication strategies and regular interaction with the public is already well established. The recommendations presented here are aimed at both public and private entities at all levels that are involved in crisis management, in particular crisis managers and roles within the organizations related to design, development and evaluation of communication plans and strategies. Even though not all personnel involved during a crisis or incident needs to communicate directly with the public, being aware of communication strategies aimed at the public and the need of communication competencies can be of use.

Establishment of a process to systematically (re-)design, review, validate, and update crisis communication strategies based on the state of the art in communication with the public and lessons identified.

Development of communication strategies, as well as training and use of these strategies by appropriate roles in the organization, taking into consideration the type of communication channels, collection, sharing and dissemination of information, trust, getting help from the general public, management of change, public preparation for crisis, avoiding misinformation, and learning lessons from communication during actual events.

Organizations (through the use of communication strategies) inform, guide, and interact with citizens that are potentially affected by the crisis or that could be helpful during the crisis, to:

  • Avoid being affected by the consequences of a crisis.
  • Avoid using resources more needed by others or otherwise interfere with the response.
  • Contribute resources/capabilities to the response effort.

Organizations need to see the potential contribution of the general public.

Further important enablers are:

  • Creating functioning networks of volunteers and leaders during non-crisis periods.
  • Developing two sided communication.
  • Taking into account the cultural characteristic of the public.


7.2. Increasing the public's involvement in resilience management

To integrate the organization in a network of relevant actors and agencies (community members and local business that typically don’t conduct crisis management). The integration is aimed at enhancing the organization’s ability to respond to the needs of both the organization as well as the local community in times of change and emergency.

Establishing a network that links between different agencies and actors enables to create, train and assess crisis communication strategies and involvement of the public in resilience management. based on the state of the art in communication with the public and lessons identified.

Advance relationships between organizations and the public including business sectors and NGO's, increasing personal communications, revealing communication channels and increase the trust between actors. In these situations, it easier to share information regarding needs and capacities of assistance.

Organizations that relate to other public functions and actors, create relationships and build capability to act in an efficient way during emergency situations. As a result, in a time of a crisis it might be helpful in building adaptive capacity by:

  • Increasing the ability to handle emergency situations by using external resources from the public.
  • Assisting public needs based on organizational specific abilities.
  • Sharing knowledge and information.

Organizations are part of the local community. As such, they have to be integrated in emergency response plans to mitigate both internal as well as external crises.


8. Understanding operational environment and context

9. Managing system failures

9.1. Supporting Development and Maintenance of Alternative Working Methods

The card supports the development and the maintenance of Alternative Working Methods (AWMs) in case of system failure. System failures are situations in which an essential component to ensure continuity in the service offered by the organization is either lost or functioning in a degraded mode and there is no backup, emergency or contingency solution available by design. Applying an AWM means performing one or more activities within the organizations in a way which is remarkably different from what described in existing procedures or practices, in order to bypass the constrain created by the system failure. It may imply following different steps in the way to perform the activity, using different tools or cooperating with different people (or all of the above) with respect to what is normally done without the system failure.


  • Preparing organizations to ensure business continuity in the face of major system failures by supporting the development of alternative working methods (AWMs).
  • Making sure that relevant people in the organization will be ready to identify and use the AWM
  • Making sure that the identification of AWMs is based on a thorough analysis of potential failure scenarios, not manageable with ordinary backup systems and with a potential for compromising the business continuity


  • Identifying possible AWMs in dedicated focus groups, based on three main principles:
    • Revising already existing AWMs
    • Reverting to “older” working methods, such as using older facilities characterized by a lower level of automation
    • Envisioning alternative uses of existing resources
  • Making sure relevant people in the organizations are aware of the availability of AWMs
  • Making sure relevant people in the organizations are sufficiently trained to use AWMs in case they will be needed
  • Tailoring the mechanism to situations before, during or after a crisis due to a major system failure.


  • Organizations for which maintaining business continuity shortly after a major system failure is of critical importance
  • Organization for which it is impossible to design in advance a backup system for all possible occurrences of system failure
  • Organizations which are ready to provisionally reorganize their resources in the face of a system failure even if this would imply significant deviation from ordinary procedures, working methods and hierarchical structures
  • Organizations whose activities depend on critical infrastructure that may experience failures on which they do not have full control


  • It should be clear who is in charge of deciding the feasability and sustenaibility of the alternative methods, as well as the transition process (begin it/end it)
  • There should be a clear communication on the development and manteinenche of alternatives working methods to all the relevant mebers involved in the decisions.


10. Incorporating advanced technology

11. Implementing organisational learning

12. Developing, assessing and revising plans

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The research leading to these results has received funding from Horizon 2020, the European Union's Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (H2020/2014-2020) under grant agreement n° 653289.