Standards, best/good practices, rubrics and operational audit formats seem to be reproducing at an alarming and staggering rate. ISO 22301 is now released, but it remains to be seen how this will converge with NFPA 1600, EMAP and the other professional practices formats out there competing for our attention. Local agency techniques, business continuity management and social sector approaches all tend to take slightly different directions. The old timers are experts at SEMS, NIMS, ICS and so on, which assumes a specific scale, level of preparation, access to resources, management style, electricity, (now internet), and organizational context. These entities generally have a functioning EOC, lots of practice, trained first responders and outside mutual aid potential (and pre-existing agreements).
NFPA 1600, EMAP and the various professional organizations generate helpful, commendable and applicable tools … but they yet remain on the journey to understanding why academe is so fundamentally different, and therefore how its crisis management tools should be reconsidered.
Standard protocol dictates that we apply currently acceptable benchmarks like NFPA 1600 to these organizations and end up with a NIMS/ICS plan that will work. The good news is that the NFPA tool leaves no stone unturned – more challenging is the time, staff, energy, collaboration, organizational complexities, expertise and unique approach required for an educational institution to use this tool. (Also problematic is the apparent absence of actual rubrics for these tools – lt me know if you find some.)
If you’ve spent any time in emergency management, especially in traditional settings like business, state or local government, the knowledge available is extensive and thorough. We identify potential hazards and rank them to make the task more manageable, then plug on through the planning process until thoughtful and well-exercised plans are in place.
But have you noticed that the hazard part is getting trickier? Earthquakes, fires, hazmat incidents and even terrorism are certainly better understood than they were ten years ago. But what are we missing? What are the hazards yet to be comprehended which will create unpleasant surprises? [Read more...]
A smoothly-running EOC is a work of art. (Just finished a gig as an observer at UCSD’s annual disaster exercise where one of the world’s best – Phillip Van Saun – ran the show). This EOC turned a sprawling University into a synthetic organization for a few hours.)
Jim Collins said that “social sector leaders need both executive skills, the exercise of direct power, and legislative skills, the ability to influence people through motivation and persuasion—the latter being more nuanced and more difficult to learn.” Change and crisis automatically push the organization from legislative leadership back toward the executive leadership pole of the continuum. [Read more...]
Executive leadership morphs toward legislative leadership as complex governance and diffuse decision making emerge, according to Jim Collins. Many organizations plod along with some effectiveness as homes for legislative leadership – the ultimate example may be the U.S. Senate or a Quaker college where essentially any individual can stop the show. [Read more...]
… was to create happy alums? The University of the Customer showed up in a recent post in the Chronicle of Higher Education. (I made a related attempt a few months ago.) Bill Sams proposed the following mission for his mythical university of the future:
Our goal is to optimize the personal capabilities of our customers on a lifelong basis and to match those capabilities with the needs of business and society in a mutually profitable relationship. [Read more...]
We should all be looking for the “M-spot” to answer the perpetual question of how much mitigation is enough? Whether managing change or crisis we should hope to mitigate vulnerabilty. Some not-so-scientific thoughts follow… [Read more...]
Using an unusual method for research on at-risk populations in a South American barrio, a friend watched as community members filed forward and placed individual matchsticks in specific areas of the map, thus creating a population density chart for her evaluation project. As one individual stepped up he broke the matchstick in half, said “this is me”, placed it on the map, and then walked away. Apparently all gathered around the table collectively held their breath – then a shared sigh passed through the room.
Adaptive management paradigms (AMPs!) helped me think about the different toolkits needed for local and global management practice. The two contexts seem to be different, requiring different emphases. [Read more...]
The Jesuits have thrived for nearly 500 years. Surely there is a sustainability loop here somewhere. [Read more...]
While at Cambridge University several generations ago, I researched an historical management case study focused on sustainable organizations. An innovative clergyman, Charles Simeon, created a 5-step cycle that fixed a minority group in English ecclesiastical society “to the remotest ages” through a strategy that generated a balancing loop, which offset an existing reinforcing loop. Reinforcing loops are cycles that build momentum each time a loop is completed. They can work like virtuous circles or like death spirals. (The former are preferable, btw.) To counter a death spiral, you need a balancing loop. (But if it’s an airplane were talking about, better use the parachute.) [Read more...]
A popular article at the New York Times examines the hypomania we associate with entrepreneurs such as Seth Priebatsch, founder of Scvnger (pronounced “scavenger”), who quit Princeton and now occupies a sleeping bag on a couch in his office when he’s not working 96 hours in a row. The article claims that:
On September 10, 2001, I delivered a presentation on terrorism and interagency coordination to an audience of American and Mexican military and government officials in Mexico City. My slide-deck, as it is known in military parlance, included images of the World Trade Towers and details of the 1993 truck-bomb attack, as well as open-source information on Osama Bin Laden. I had no special insight into the prophetic timing of my presentation, or of the magnitude of the events that would prove the resolve of both the perpetrators and targets of this infamous attack. There was, however, a foreshadowing regarding problems leading up to September 11th and which are present in most crisis events: the factors of trust and its impact on effective communication and coordination. I look back with a mix of emotions on the events of the following morning, because lack of unity and the silo-effect were contributing factors that plagued U.S. efforts to effectively develop a collaborative strategy of threat mitigation.
For those of you who missed it, the Economist picked up on a phenomenon in Japan worthy of notice. One of the hottest books of the year (it is said) titled What if the Female Manager of a High-School Baseball Team read Drucker’s ‘Management’ has been jumping off the shelves. (Over one million sold…)
The unlikely catalyst for this cultish enthusiasm is a fictional teenager called Minami. Like many high-school girls in Japan, she becomes the gofer for the baseball team’s male coach. Unlike many of her compatriots, she is the kind of girl, as the book says, who leaps before she looks. Horrified by the team’s lack of ambition, she sets it the goal of reaching the high-school championships. She stumbles upon Drucker’s 1973 book, and it helps her turn the rabble into a team.
Edgar Schein’s insights reminded me again of the all-consuming fire of group dynamics and how they waylay us. Schein’s classic work captures all the tacit activity that rumbles around in the background of both newly-forming and even well-established “groups”. This can mean anything from corporations to fantasy baseball aficionados.
Peter Drucker’s meaningful Outside postulates that all internal activity equals costs. Only external activity aimed at the meaningful Outside creates real results. But at the same time, without Schein’s “marker events”, “joint sensing of relief” and “shared emotional reactions” groups get nowhere. We have to slog through all that annoying stuff with other human beings to get at results. Until a group, team, start-up or corporation gets it together internally, nothing happens.
Bob Sutton picked up on a pertinent subject once again in bad is stronger than good. I was initially most amazed by the need for five times as many affirmations as negatives in a marriage or romantic relationship. I confess to being a grumpy husband at times. John Gottman wrote some good books and in at least one, demonstrated that he could predict marital success just by listening to whether spouses despised each other in a brief, video-taped record of a marriage interaction.
Preparing future business leaders to make wise choices is the principal objective for institutions of higher education that confer degrees in business and management. However, given a lack of crisis management curricula in many university business- management programs, it would be unrealistic to expect good decision-making of these “leaders” during times of crisis. Not taking the time to actively engage in thinking about and planning for crises is a major contributing factor in the current crisis of leadership. Curricula should be training students to apply effective and proven methods of engaging potential or emerging threats. Just as lawyers should not ask a question in court for which they do not know the answer, business leaders should not plan a business venture without carefully considering, and planning for, inauspicious contingencies. In addition to building a diverse and manageable crisis-action team, future business leaders should be taught how best to implement the following crisis-management practices:
No, it doesn’t show up in the Fortune 500 or any other business list de jour. Peter Drucker thought the Salvation Army got the nod. At one point, the world’s largest nonprofit (supplanted by the United Way when they apparently started counting their branches differently), this group brings an entirely new dimension to effectiveness and crisis management.
Peter Drucker said that constituencies were different in business than in politics. Essentially they were single issue groups who did not always seek to make their company or organization successful, profitable or effective. (Sometimes whistleblowers start out this way and that’s not a bad thing. Why they operate and where they end up is the true test.)
Observers of celebrities can move from natural skepticism to trust and followership. The celebrity leads through an assumed and artificial credibility. Observers become followers by buying into this credibility, essentially trusting a truth created and amplified by technology and made meaningful by an evolving brand, (whether well-managed or not), as the following crowd grows and sometimes even goes viral.
Each day has 24 hours – no more, no less. If you have defined your mO you know what your priorities are. If you don’t honor your priorities you won’t reach your mO.
Peter Drucker used to say that a minimum of six straight hours of concentration were needed to generate anything worthwhile. Especially in the summers he would hole up in his home office and allegedly not venture out until at least six hours had passed. A rough draft would then move from his home in Claremont to Orlene, the most loyal secretary in the universe, who reigned at his campus office a short distance away. Rough drafts never left the hands of Orlene until they were cleaned up and Peter claimed to never let a rough draft out of his or Orlene’s sight. I tried to look at one once, and my supposedly good friend Orlene nearly perpetrated some Middle East justice on the hand that reached for the rough draft.
As soon as enough people give you enough compliments and you’re wielding more power than you’ve ever had in your life, it’s not that you become…arrogant…or become rude to people, but you get a false sense of your own importance and what you’ve accomplished. You actually think you’ve altered the course of history. Leonard0 DiCaprio
If you want to lead you need a transformative crisis. This from Bill George and Andrew Maclean who write about transformative leadership passages. (By the way, the lack of one may contribute to what holds many “gap leaders” in the nonperformance zone. They simply never had the tears or scars required to move on.)
But the price is high.
A young person we know who recently finished her undergraduate degree started a new job, and immediately ran into a brick wall of sorts. Her quite expensive and highly-ranked liberal arts degree had not prepared her for an organization hard at work. Until she began contributing she lived in a precarious place. [Peter Drucker once said that a new graduate was a liability to any organization for eighteen months.]
Just when we had teams figured out, hierachies had disappeared (right.) and toxic leaders purged, the ground shifted and our world got more complicated. Cultural anthropologists sometimes talk about dynamic equivalence when translating a document or idea from one culture into another. This seems to be a good word for the shifting management landscape many leaders face.
Peter Drucker wrote about how “the educated person” differed from the distinctively American understanding of those educated in the liberal arts tradition. A center of gravity shifted because graduates were not only to understand reality, but to master it. As a creature of the knowledge society, the educated person now defined society’s performance capacity.[i]
A colleague once said that the MBA came with a mortgage. The awarding of the degree carried with it the obligation to contribute, a sort of “pay it forward” idea. He challenged every MBA student in his classes to decide how they would give back. He raised the challenge of the tithe or “first fruits” concept, familiar to Jews and Christians in many places. Because the tithe was usually understood to be a “tenth” of what was received as income, the newly-minted MBA could consider how she would give 10 per cent back somewhere. Maybe this is the interest rate on the mortgage …
Alan Murray started a great conversation with his recent article titled The end of management. And of course (as he should have) he began with a Peter Drucker quote. A quick note to management professors everywhere… you’re not out of a job yet. The article may be more about the end of corporations and firms as we know them. Drucker believed that we would always have management but just as heartily endorsed organized abandonment. Murray’s really saying that it’s now the petrified Goliaths that must face this and it may be too late for some. It is fitting that A. G. Lafley is quoted at the end. Proctor and Gamble’s approach evolved from Drucker’s meaningful Outside.
At lunch one day, Peter Drucker – with his usual candor – announced that “the stand-alone liberal arts college cannot survive”. This alerted me that a teaching dialogue had been launched. He observed that alliances such as those of the five Claremont colleges or other creative partnerships were necessary for the liberal arts tradition to survive. (Obviously there are some top-tier liberal arts colleges, comfortably insulated by great endowments and elite status – this is not about them.)
Snuggled in Fry’s Harbor in the Channel Islands off Santa Barbara in our chartered 42’ Catalina, I set my cool new handheld GPS anchor alarm. The sailboat had bow and stern anchors out, sheltering in a small anchorage, but surrounded by a pristine, spectacular and largely untouched natural setting. One other boat anchored nearby made me a little nervous, but I knew my GPS wouldn’t let me down. I dialed in an anchor alarm setting with a 50’ diameter on the GPS and curled up to listen to the sea lions chattering back and forth in the dusk. An hour later an annoying buzzing made me sit up, banging my head on the overhead deck above me. The boat was outside the diameter and I knew that next, we were going to die. But poking my head through the forward hatch, a quick look-around showed we were safe.
Actually, this is not about leaping sea creatures at Sea World, but moves toward deeper waters…
PORPS teach us lessons about leadership and sustaining organizations.
Some researchers now believe that in the U.S. adolescents become adults around age 27. This means that most traditional college students will be “adolescents” the entire time they are undergrads. This raises some interesting questions for those of us concerned about helping shape the next generation of leaders. With experience educating mainly experienced managers, I wonder how best to form adolescents as leaders?
Peter Drucker coined “meaningful Outside” in October 2004, while discussing the work of the CEO with several senior executives and management scholars in Claremont, and eventually published an opinion in the Wall Street Journal. A. G. Lafley, CEO of Proctor and Gamble, sat in on the session and developed his thoughts later in an HBR article. Numerous bloggers have picked up on the idea and the phrase appears on new sites daily. [Perhaps we have a new datum for tracking diffusion of innovation.]
A difficult subject must be now be addressed. Even though the nearly infinite mix of majors, minors and specialties contribute uniquely to the capacity of each individual graduate, each will inevitably serve in an organization of some type. [There may be the odd starving artist in the garrett somewhere, but there may be a good reason that artist is starving...]
In the early nineties we put on “project roundtables” at Cambridge University in England. The idea involved bringing smart and energetic volunteers together [true knowledge workers who were bored at their real jobs and looking for a place to contribute] to complete a project for a worthy victim. People were willing to pay to be there. We threw in a few pub crawls and some punting on the River Cam for relaxation and spent the rest of the time sitting around big tables and talking. We had wrangled a contribution of old Macintosh laptops – cute clunky little dark grey boxes at that time – plus some innovative shared desktop software so everyone could work collaboratively on the same document interactively. This was way ahead of MacBook Airs and Google Docs. We didn’t know it at the time but we were true trendsetters.
David Brooks scores again. In today’s New York Times he connects Clayton Christensen’s commencement speech at Harvard to living the “measured” [and meaningful life]. Brooks describes the “well-planned life” and the “summoned self”. If Drucker’s educated person is to master the world’s realities, learning’s outcomes should drive the learning environment, rather than the other way around.
As a management professor, I am constantly learning that knowledge is created from the integration of theory, experience, (both individual and corporate), case studies of actual situations, informed dialogue, (integrating historical development and analysis), market activities and results, structured and intentional inquiry, and qualitative & quantitative assessment, to name a few.
One of the delights of my former job at the Drucker School was lunch with Peter every month or so at his favorite local spot, and the opportunity to listen to his thoughts on the latest project, whatever that might be. Early in 2001, his interest was “new demands on the executive”, which meant our executive students would invariably get a challenging new course the next fall on this very topic. Because my doctoral work was in management history I’m was also interested, while sitting at these lunches, to capture the oral tradition in areas his biographers may have missed.
In the nineteenth-century Peninsular Wars of Wellington vs. Napoleon, a tactic called the “Forlorn Hope” became a byword. In any particularly knotty situation, where “knotty” meant that lots of attackers would probably die, volunteers were solicited to join the “forlorn hope”. The benefits were compelling – promotion, wealth, honor, etc. But the odds were daunting. Like Las Vegas, the house [defenders] usually won. There were volunteers ready to take the challenge, but their numbers, for obvious reasons, declined dramatically by Waterloo.
The generals who called for “forlorn hope” fresh meat remind me of senior executives and boards who call for change agents. For the generals safe back at headquarters, the outcomes were straightforward – hand out rewards to the survivors and bury the losers. Sadly, many of the change-agent victims of a gutless or clueless CEO or board also get buried. [See young turks from yesterday]
“Agent provocateur” is traditionally linked to entrapment and luring others into incriminating actions. Sadly, this is how many senior leaders eventually view change agents within their organizations. “Eventually” because often the leader hired the individual for his competence in handling change and innovation, only to reconsider when change actually kicked in and gained momentum. Search committees, search firms, leaders making a hire decision, and boards all want innovation, change, fresh ideas, and excitement…until the cost is counted. The slide from change agent to agent provocateur for the hapless leader is more predictable than not.
A friend of mine says that when “change meets culture, culture wins”.
I’m sure that anthropologists have watched people in organizations hold meetings. Academic meetings are a variation that I’m more familiar with. I am not an anthropologist but find it interesting to pretend I am, and perhaps see things through the eyes of a different discipline.
1) Reorient your worldview
Remember those grade school maps of the world where the U.S.A. showed up squarely in the middle? On my first trip to England I saw a map there with the British Isles squarely in the middle. My first thought, of course, was don’t they know that the U.S.A. is supposed to be in the middle? When I got into sailing I discovered the Southern Ocean. The world looks pretty strange with Antarctica in the middle.
Thinking about the broader concept of odysseys needed by an increasing number of adolescents accelerated because of an impassioned phone call from my 21-year old son Sam. Fresh from a university-sponsored trek through Death Valley and in cell phone range on a reprovisioning stop, he almost breathlessly recounted what appeared to be a transforming experience for him. Our co-pilgrimage [me, my wife Janis and Sam], officially starting when he walked away from a traditional high school at 15, generated some gray hair and sleepless nights for us. At times these six years mimicked the anxious times when our eldest wandered the alleys of large Iraqi cities lugging an M-16. Other than crediting almost ceaseless prayer in the years prior, what happened to Sam in Death Valley that created this conversation?
Nothing can replace an out-of-comfort zone experience. Several years ago my wife Janis taught a “global environment” course to MBA students from Oregon. A chief objective of the curriculum involved shaking up cultural paradigms. Though a number of the students traveled widely, some had never left the state. It was important to find a place quite different from Oregon. Spanish-speaking countries were relatively near, but many students had taken Spanish in school, so we needed to reach further. The much-appreciated site of choice turned out to be Portuguese-speaking Brazil. From Embraer to favellas the experience resounded.
3) Don’t assume that a U.S. model is right, good or appropriate anywhere else
Emphasis here is not that a U.S. model is bad, but rather why start with a generally settled model when the opportunity presents itself to get imaginative? We might end up at the same place but if we risk a little process we also might learn more than we now know. Could meet some intriguing new people too…
“The age of educating most of humanity has barely begun” claims Kevin Carey. He then lays out some background thoughts: 97 per cent of the world’s high school graduates live outside the U.S, trade barriers block the flow of capital, scholars and students, and many competitive countries aim at creating their own “world-class universities”. There’s more, so check it out, and don’t miss Ben Wildavsky’s new book.
4) Set up the teaching MBA that will equip practitioners actually to teach others, rather than create personal or corporate wealth
The theory we’re trying to construct here seeks to release the wealth creation capacity of the rest of the world and presumes that there may be some common ground of management and business knowledge that can be adaptable across most cultures, both locally and globally. At the same time there will be some management knowledge that is essential locally but not transferable globally. We just need some simple vehicle(s) to pass it around!
One idea might be to unleash experienced managers to be MBA replicators in places where “the rest” dwell. Thus the idea of the teaching MBA…
5) Figure out functional management and apply it locally
Drucker’s “making knowledge effective” definition envisions management as a practice and a discipline. It may also be a technology, perhaps in the same sense of “intermediate” or “appropriate” technologies characterized by writers such as E. F. Schumacher.
6) Trash current ideas about accreditation and start over
I’m all for accreditation. I’m pedaling as fast as I can right now to get some for our MBA and PhD programs. (and, okay, “trash” is a strong word). The assessment of quality and the process of continuous improvement are huge issues now, ranging from the concerns of the U.S. federal government on down to my desire to get value and results for the tuition that I’m paying to a small liberal arts college for my son. Degree mills and dropout factories make common standards necessary.
(Clara Lovett’s commentary fired a round over the B-school trenches. It made me think that we need an MBA attuned to “the rise of the rest”. Seven steps followed – here’s a discussion of the seventh.)
7) Fear not new models
This seven-part series aimed to be an exercise in thinking about meaningful innovation that is both marketable and sustainable. This final post counts the cost of what we have to stop doing.
Peter Drucker preached organized abandonment and innovation wherever he went in his long career. The former especially required managerial courage. It is not enough just to say no. He noted that:
…the bulk of time, work, attention, and money first goes to “problems” rather than to opportunities, and, secondly, to areas where even extraordinarily successful performance will have minimum impact on results.
At a certain point in any leadership career, the executive reaches the gap. Similar to mountain climbing without the right equipment, it is an unbridgeable crevasse. All the natural gifts, resources, college networks, family connections, native intellect, personal cleverness or even ability to manipulate and control, heretofore available and applicable, are not enough. The leader simply can no longer produce the same results in an organization which has evolved beyond current competences.
[In the early nineties we created the HAVUC concept at the Simeon Institute while carrying out U.S. State Department-sponsored training of government officials, general officers and cabinet members of the former Soviet Union. It is a tidy way to characterize the Hazard - Vulnerability - Capacity loop for crisis mitigation.]
No organization planning for crisis management can afford to, prepare, respond, recover or mitigate every possible threat. Stephen Fink includes a list of nearly two hundred possible hazards that can destroy an organization if not handled properly. Lerbinger proposes several useful categories that quickly expand as the administrator’s imagination begins spinning out scenarios. The crisis definition used by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services leaves few stones unturned and has the same daunting effect on academic planners. No senior leader can approach a board with the kind of budget it would take to handle every possible threat. There has to be some process that narrows options and applies costs/benefits assessment.
Take the case of Reed College. Colin Diver, Reed’s president, plaintively noted in the New York Times recently, “’The catering to consumer tastes — I keep trying to say, we are in the education business,’ … expressing a frustration rarely voiced publicly by college presidents.” (“College in need closes a door to needy students”, 10 June 2009).
Although crisis management and business continuity planning are becoming more prevalent across sectors, academe is sometimes overlooked by traditional government and consulting agencies and companies. In many communities, academic institutions are large employers and major stakeholders. Even when administrators have prepared responses for traditional, (generally natural) threats or hazards, they miss other threats just as dangerous to their continued existence or success, like a major cheating scandal, academic dishonesty among faculty members, or an inappropriate donation. A brief search of academic websites shows a number who make their crisis plans available online, presumably so their own constituencies have access to them, but invariably these plans appear superficial and untested.
November 11, 2005
Today, my friend Peter Drucker died. That thousands of other men and women around the world can say the same thing is a testament to his character and his reach, over time and across cultures.