Emergency Management and Disaster
Newspaper headlines report various disasters and crises almost every day, which indicate that people live in challenging conditions. Despite these challenges may bear different forms, it is important to introduce relevant policies allowing their successful management. That is why emergency managers should consider various scenarios of historical crisis management. Such activities are important for differentiation and systematization of typical mistakes, which restrain the efficacy of emergency response and management. Moreover, they allow identifying the most effective approaches to these issues, which lead to the economy of human and material resources along with the provision of top level assistance. Consequently, there is a need for the revision of the factors, which allow designing and implementing effective crisis management strategies. Such measures would result in the overall increase of the efficacy of crisis management in various governmental and non-governmental organizations.
Issues, Which Influence the Efficacy of Emergency Management
Current organizations and communities should consider various aspects, which allow designing and practicing efficient crisis management strategies. Among them, one can name historical crisis management scenarios and case studies, crisis reframing approaches, practicing different thinking styles and other. For instance, Haas claims that the analysis of the earthquake in Haiti exposed a critical issue, which allows preventing further drastic repercussions in case of a similar accident. His major statement was that “it was not a natural disaster – it was a disaster of engineering”. Addressing and comparing the Haiti earthquake with similar events in Chile, he argues that Chileans have a long history of practice of designing buildings resistant to collapsing. Thus, it was possible to avoid the enormous quantity of lost human lives in Haiti in case the buildings had relevant design and building materials. In this sense, “normal”, conventional building standards in Haiti had a failure when faced with an unconventional challenge. Therefore, there is a need for the practice of unconventional approaches to critical issues regarding that an abnormal condition might become normal in case of emergency.
Moreover, one more case involving the crisis of a local company, Rural Books, shows that emergency can take various forms and requires adequate analysis and management strategy. Rural Books is a company, which specialized on cooking recipes based on wild berries and similar ingredients, and has a history of more than ten years. The produced books had special system labeling safe and unsafe berries protecting the customers from consuming poisonous natural products. However, the company was involved in a case of product tampering, which led to the death of four people because of eating mislabeled berries. The peculiar feature of this case was that the managing staff of the company was not prepared for such course of events. As it was indicated by Mitroff, “RB was prepared for fires and explosions that could burn down its offices and ruin its production facilities, but not for anything like this.” Therefore, conventional thinking led the company to an emergency respond crisis, which was aggravated by the lack of crisis management skills. For instance, the inability of thinking out of the box was intensified with emotional toll around the emergency, which caused confusion of the top management personnel. Consequently, it turned out that Rural Books’ business model and system impact was more complex than they thought it was. The reason for this statement is that the news about the unexpected emergency spread across the country involving the biggest information agencies of the country. Likewise, the business model lacked flexibility, which is supported by the evidence that the managing personnel depended entirely on the leader lacking personal initiatives. As a result, the whole business was put at risk, which could have been avoided in case the leader and the managers had proper crisis management skills. This case shows that conventional thinking narrows the abilities for prediction and results in restrained abilities for crisis response and management. Similarly, the case shows that any organization’s business model and system impact is more complex than the managers and leaders think it is which should be considered either. That is why the personnel of any company should pay attention towards the ways of improvement of the indicated skills and raising the awareness of the systemic aspects of crisis response.
Furthermore, it is crucial to denote the aspects of responding to the emergency, which are Crisis Management, Risk Management, and Continuity of Operations Planning. Each of the indicated aspects is responsible for a particular domain and performs peculiar functions. Crisis Management is defined as a systemic process of thinking about a wide range of potential dangers and the principles of their occurrence. It involves the phases of evaluation of the factors leading to crisis, its actualization and repercussions. Moreover, Risk Management techniques allow businesses protecting themselves from peculiar risks, which are identified more concrete. At the same time, Operation Planning involves detailed activities, which address certain methods and toolkits of any operation designed for reaching a wide range of the specified aims. It is important to realize the differences between the characterized activities in order to avoid possible confusion in approaches towards emergency response.
Additionally, the process of crisis action planning should include the discussion of the issues of being a troublemaker, thinking out of a box and questioning the authorities. It is evident that these activities depend on the style of leadership and the approaches towards the operation of the enterprise. However, it is significant to note that some of them may be more effective than the others in case applied to relevant cases. For instance, thinking “out of a box” is beneficial in the majority of unknown and new emergencies because it allows gathering untraditional but useful strategies. Likewise, questioning authorities is valid for companies facing with known and expected crises. Furthermore, one should be a responsible troublemaker in order to allow the company to realize possible perspectives and consequences of unexpected emergencies. Such issues may also include the problems of denial, trauma, and betrayal, when the most unexpected emergency is the inner conflict in the company. Moreover, the ability to solve various crises should include the awareness of the styles of thinking, which impact the practiced crisis management approaches. Mitroff contrasts them as introversion and extraversion, thinking and feeling, judgment and perception and sensing and intuitiveness. This aspect is important because, for example, selection of sensing approaches by an intuitive person may lead to the failure of providing valid strategies. Likewise, it is crucial to realize the evolution of approaches to crisis management, which includes the awareness of its outmoded and counter assumptions. The first ones are based on clear statement of the problem, its support by the statistic, and the existence of the only correct response. At the same time, counter assumptions identify that problems are relevant in concrete situations, have multiple solutions and may occur repeatedly. Consequently, the selection and application of the relevant crisis management strategy allows providing timely and adequate responses to emergencies supported by further planning initiatives.
Summarizing the presented information, the paper comes to a conclusion that leaders and the managing personnel of the companies require training in crisis management. It is evident that governmental and non-governmental organization lack awareness in approaches, classification, methods and basic strategies of crisis response and management. This idea is supported by recent cases of the consequences of the Haiti earthquake and Rural Books’ problem management crisis. Therefore, the top management staff of any business and a governmental entity should pay additional attention towards the increase of the skills of crisis management. As a result, any company or organization would be ready to avoid or overcome any crisis of the contemporary life.