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“Tweet” Management - How to Gain Control of Your Inbox

The “tyranny of the urgent”. We face it every day as risk and claim managers with a barrage of social media, headlines, email and texts. Almost 50 years ago, Charles E. Hummel chronicled this phenomenon in daily life. He could never have imagined then how much more chaos is being created today by digital communication.

Have your risk management efforts become an exercise of managing email, texts, tweets, and social media boards? Or, is it a more conscious effort of deliberate, thoughtful planning for what is most important?

In his revised and expanded version of his original book the Tyranny of the Urgent , Mr. Hummel describes an experienced factory manager’s viewpoint when the person said, “Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.”

Do urgent matters (including tweets and texts) overwhelm the important things you are trying to do as a risk and claim management professional? How can you change your perspective to marshal the resources and execute your company’s or clients plans? Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. However, strong and patient communication, along with deliberate and persistent approaches, will set the tone and culture to achieve meaningful results.

Let’s say your company’s CEO or Partner just read the latest headline about corporate Cyber Risk, and texts a message to you and your technology counterpart questioning what you are doing about this complex risk. There is no way to respond with a “tweetable” soundbite, right? Well, actually you probably do have a response that can be reduced to 140 characters. Why not plan for this possible communication by keeping a list or dashboard of key risks along with quick references to 140 character responses.

Here is an example.

CEO to you: “Hi Joe, I just read the following article. What are we doing about this?”

After your immediate shock that the CEO has your phone number and has texted, you come up with…

You: “Hi Jim, we’ve got our teams working on it. Bill and I will discuss the key issues now and provide a summary to you later today.”

OK, this is an urgent and important issue from the CEO which requires speedy attention. All of your careful daily planning, execution and monitoring are going to pay off in a big way. If you have been doing the hard work of managing this subject, then you will likely have an executive summary in your planning documents which the team can immediately review for updates.

Clear communication should be established with the team to be sure your short “answer” reflects the current immediate views of everyone, and that there are appropriate follow-up actions to address the issue. Thereafter, the subject should be placed on a risk dashboard or priorities list, and be given adequate ranking along with other matters. This layered approach of strategic and tactical management will keep the emotional, “crowding” effect of an urgent matter in perspective without overwhelming your important daily activities.

What about other, more mundane urgencies? Another example is noted below.

CFO to you: “Hi Joe, I have a board meeting tomorrow, and a member asked me last evening what we are doing to reduce the cost of Workers Compensation.”

You: “Hi Sam, as we discussed last week in our meeting, I’ll take a quick look at the strategy bullet points and text them to you shortly.”

Again, the message is clear, concise and action-oriented to meet the agreed upon key points. Then, this issue can be re-ordered as a priority given the increased visibility by an interested board member.

The key to managing the risk and claim management inbox is a calm, deliberate approach that utilizes your dashboard of strategic summaries to answer the inevitable soundbite questions. Then, utilize your teams and planning matrixes to master the risk management tactics to achieve each objective.

By Robert J. Blackburn, Managing Principal, Blackburn Group, Inc., contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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