Monday, February 9, 2009

Leaders are Key...

Richard Moreau, Vice-President, Director Emergency Preparedness & Public Safety
Many conferences and workshops on Emergency Preparedness, Emergency Management and Crisis tend to focus on very narrow segments of what is in fact a very complex and multi-facetted issue. We have a propensity to talk about technology, lessons learned in a broad sense, the need to exchange more information but we pay very little attention to the human factor and more precisely the place of leaders before, during and after a crisis. Despite all the technological solutions currently available, it is my firm belief that effective crisis management and response is first and foremost a human endeavour supported, facilitated or enabled by technology.

A handful of conferences that I have attended did provide fine examples of leadership during a crisis. However, in most instances, the common theme that emerges was that these leaders all found themselves in situations where the corporate or organizational processes, procedures and structures in place where not optimized to effectively support their decision making requirements during a crisis. This situation forced them to improvise and adapt on the fly with mixed results. I believe that in order to avoid repeating past errors the EP/EM community needs to place leaders at the centre of their respective EP/EM frameworks. Clearly no amount of preparation will totally eliminate the risk of having to improvise during a crisis. However, there is a fundamental difference between having to improvise process, procedures and structures on the fly while attempting to generate solutions and improvising solutions inside a stable framework of processes, procedures and structures.

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