The terrorist’s son

Author: Zak Ebrahim with Jeff Giles

In this book the son talks about his father and mother, his youth, his family, and the atrocities of the world.

People are cruel and very short-sighted to each other when it comes to it, . The cultural layer on top of the short drives and instincts that distinguish man from animals is apparently very thin. Z has experienced this from different points of view: hatred of believers of another faith, hatred of children who are too young for empathy, hatred of adults for being simply connected to a “perpetrator” because of bloodlines, hatred against a system where you were received but could not live in, hatred because of greed, hatred in order to be able to respond and to “be at the other side”, but also repentance about the latter.

What Z proves is that they are all choices. Some are very influenced in this. Others are rock solid for their individuality and realize that they choose themselves. They choose despite the circumstances. And despite the circumstances, everyone is liable for his own choices. Regardless of a good lawyer. Regardless of a religious leader. Regardless of the system. Regardless of the pure fact that many can be pointed out for their share in your choice.

That is why terrorism is never OK.

That is why it is important that everyone realizes that their own choice makes a difference. That is in general the hope for this world. That is in general the message that I read in this booklet.

Z kept a TED talk about it. You can find them here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyR-K2CZIHQ

Lessons identified from this life can be:

  • People can continue to choose themselves despite the hateful circumstances.
  • Everything can be misused, also faith.
  • There are four important pillars in a person’s life:

    • family and friends,
    • work,
    • residence,
    • (psychological) health.
  • Always hope for the understanding of others, but do not expect it.
  • Always create a strong friendship with people before you allow yourself to be vulnerable to them.
  • Learn to trust again and again.

The Storyteller’s secret

Author: Carmine Gallo

In this book, the author explains the secrets of the best storytellers. Each of them has his own success story. But how do they do it? The readers of the book “Talk like TED” have a strong sequel in this book, where more secrets are uncovered. I include this book in my bibliography because telling stories is or should be made relevant for everyone at every level in every organization.

According to the author, there are 5 types of storytellers:

1 ° Storytellers who fuel our inner fire.

2 ° Story tellers who teach us something.

3 ° Storytellers who make things easier.

4 ° Storytellers who motivate us.

5 ° Storytellers who set movements in motion.

From each of these groups of storytellers, the author makes an analysis of how they do the story on the basis of illustrious illustrative examples. I give here a brief summary of the “lessons identified”.

1 ° Storytellers who fuel our inner fire.
  • Let your passion float and share it
  • The question is: “What will make your heart beat faster?”
  • Rigid optimism: see a failure as a lesson to improve your storytelling technique.
  • Believe in the power of your idea.
  • Practice! You shape yourself by practicing.
  • Believe in yourself.
  • Tell your story personally.
  • Bring a tension in your story.
  • Do not shy away from difficult subjects. They build an emotional bond with the audience.
  • Use in your story the technique of the three-part stories (eg trigger, transformation and life lesson)
  • Put from your experience or from an event that gave rise to your ambition into the story to become part of the folklore of your organization.
  • Use a higher goal, a higher mission, in your story as a motivator.
  • Sometimes, use the following three steps (Peter Guber):

    • Attract attention with a question or an unexpected challenge
    • Provide an emotional experience through a story about the struggle that ultimately leads to the challenge
    • Stimulate your story with a ‘call to action’.

2 ° Story tellers who teach us something.

  • Facts and numbers are fun and important, but rarely have a place in a story or a pitch. You should not touch people in their heads but in their hearts.
  • 65% of your content must consist of stories. It creates confidence and a deeper emotional bond with the audience.
  • Break through expected patterns in a positive, shocking or surprising way. E.g. Bill Gates released mosquitoes in a room at a TED talk.
  • Use analogies. This helps understanding information and concepts that others have no knowledge of.
  • Do not use statistics or jargon.
  • Tell us about the problem you had, and how you solved it. Use specific, concrete and relevant details.
  • Tell a story in which the customer recognizes himself.
  • A brand is not a single story. Share the stage with the good storytellers of your organization. Everyone has a story.
  • Humor is a powerful emotionally charged event. That is why you use it best just before a moment that you want the listener to remember. It is followed by focused listening. It increases the effective transfer of the message afterwards.
  • Know what you are talking about and be and stay true to your brand.
  • Twitter, Facebook, Vine and Instagram are meant to leave just enough information to attract attention to the rest of your content.
  • Our brains are set on stories, not on abstract matters.
  • The feeling you give people is important to adjust behavior.
  • Exceed expectations. Put the dots on the ‘i’.

3 ° Storytellers who make things easier.

  • If you can not make something clear on the back of an envelope, it is a bad idea.
  • A good story starts with a good header that immediately makes both the idea and the message clear.
  • Say what you mean and mean what you say and preferably use (only) a few thought-out words.
  • Use the three-line rule. It gives structure, simplicity and action.
  • Use simple and accessible language so that students from a primary school can understand it.
  • Use video. Enter a conversation with the viewer.
  • Use imagery, and less, less and less text to give a presentation a lively image with feeling.
  • Introduce heroes and villains to keep the story simple.
  • Keep the story to the most important things that everyone can understand.
  • Simplify every complexity.
  • Practice a pitch until it becomes interesting and it can be given in 60 seconds.

4 ° Storytellers who motivate us.

  • You need a struggle to have a villain overcome by the hero. The struggle is a sign of honor.
  • Never believe the story of “having or not having DNA for success”.
  • Motivate others to dream bigger and achieve everything that we are capable of.
  • Do not break bricks, do not work for an income, but build a cathedral.
  • Sketch with stories an image behind the mission and vision of the organization.
  • Use stories to make culture. Make your people passionate about it. Let the employees see that they are the hero in their own story with the customer. Share their stories. Put them in the spotlight.
  • Inspire with stories about adversity, grief and victory. Use tension and triumph.
  • Share in the lessons from the past with others. Those that gave you strength. Appreciate and protect your origin.
  • Speak about real people who have endured hardships. It sets an emotional heart on fire.
  • Use specific, lively, tangible and concrete details
5 ° Storytellers who set movements in motion.
  • Use short words and short sentences and a minimum of words.
  • Use metaphors and anaphors.
  • Use tension and triumph to empathize the audience.
  • Do not use an endless list of facts and figures and other information. Use facts to convince in balance with a trip to another time and place by means of a presentation.
  • Put the audience in the situation of the hero. Give them the feeling that they can help determine the outcome.
  • Make the story big.
  • Technology complements a story, but the story comes first.

A final addition I would like to make is the following: do not shy away from an opportunity to sharpen your storytelling technique.

IRGC Guidelines for the governance of systemic risks

IRGC

Many of today’s challenges are related to climate change, biodiversity loss, degradation of the ecosystem, exposure to chemicals, etc. and these have all been characterized by a high degree of complexity. They often have multiple causes and internal feedbacks within and external feedbacks between systems and over time. They are often difficult to define, determine, and it is often difficult for us to agree on them. This contrasts sharply with conventional risks such as classical environmental issues: water quality, food problems, urban waste water, waste and wastewater management, etc. which are more successfully handled.

The analysis in this document has to do with slowly evolving catastrophic risks. Although they are often foreseeable, we often can not stop them because they are built into the nature of complex adaptive systems. Moreover, one of the defining characteristics of our modern world is the interdependence of these complex adaptive systems. But what are those systemic risks?

Systemic risks are the “threat that individual failures, accidents or interruptions that occur in a system continue through the system through a process of contagion”. It refers to a risk or probability of failure of a whole system as opposed to the failure of a single component. So there is a cascade of failure that involves the larger system. More abstractly, it is “a threat of a phase transition from one equilibrium state of the system to another, which is much less opportune, characterized by multiple self-reinforcing feedback mechanisms that make it difficult to reverse the evolution of the system”. Systems that are vulnerable to this often also have the characteristic of being interconnected. Examples of systemic risks are the financial crisis of 2008, the collapse of the Aral sea, and the overfishing of the oceans.

The guideline for “the governance of systemic risk” proposes an approach of 7 interrelated steps:

  1. Explore the system,
  2. Develop scenarios,
  3. Determine the objectives,
  4. Co-development management strategies,
  5. Focus on unforeseen obstacles and sudden critical shifts in the system,
  6. Decide, test and implement,
  7. Monitor, learn, review and adapt.

This requires iteration between and within each step.

The process must be coordinated by a “navigator” who plays a decisive role in bringing together the various stakeholders. He also ensures an effective implementation of the process and helps with the transfer of one transition from the system to another. It may be necessary for the organization to regularly adjust its objectives.

The process also involves addressing unexpected obstacles and sudden critical shifts. Obviously, the big obstacles must be known before the strategy is determined. But it must also be possible to think of sudden barriers. Adaptation possibilities of the organization are therefore a requirement.

The governance process for systemic risks must be open to a variety of possible entry points, depending on where the organization stands in its evolution, taking into account the course and timing of the development of the threat.

And in all of this, communication, openness and transparency are objective universal requirements to counteract difficulties in determining causal relations, psychological obstacles and often long latency periods. Round tables and platforms where information is shared are a requirement for creating awareness of existing needs and accepting the realistic management options.

 

The Gray Rhino – How to recognize and act on the obvious dangers we ignore

Author: Michèle Wucker

In this book, the author tells about things that are uncomfortable. It is not about “Black Swans” but about “Gray Rhinos”. What is the difference? Where black swans are very popular as events with a small probability but huge impact, gray rhinos events that are common, have a big probability, and have a huge impact. Where black swans are difficult to predict, or totally unexpected, gray rhinos are often seen on the horizon. But often people choose not to (want to) see them.

So there are some questions that we can ask, on which the author argues, such as “What are examples?” and “When should we respond?” And “Why do we ignore them while the costs and consequences are self-evident, and often greater than we even think, and that while we know this? ”

The author tries to answer these questions by analyzing the stages of gray rhinos events. These stages are: prediction that elicits denial, denial, muddling, diagnosis of the situation, panic, action, and post-treatment “because a crisis is a terrible thing to waste”.

A very important advice from the author is: think long term.

But the most important take aways of the book are in the last chapter: in that chapter the author gives a “Gray Rhino Safari Guide”. These are a set of principles to deal with the stages of the gray rhins, so “How to Not Get Run Over by a Gray Rhino”. These are:

1 ° Recognize the rhinoceros. Recognizing the existence of gray rhinos is a step aside when it comes along. But more than that, that’s why you can learn to see problems differently and transform them into an opportunity. So dare to ask uncomfortable questions. Hear, see & speak no evil is not a good idea.

2 ° Define the rhinoceros. After some practice you recognize a number of rhinos. And that can be very intense in itself. You can not take all problems into account at the same time. So you have to prioritize. But for that you have to define a scope of each rhino. The way you do this is important to let people respond.

3 ° Do not stand still. If you can not work out the big things you have to do in one step, do it in smaller steps. You may muddle on for a while, as long as this muddling helps you on your way to take action. If possible, make a plan in time. For example, on a personal level, you can change your seatbelt when you drive a car. Not every ride leads to an accident however, but it is always possible. Preparation is the key to success.

4 ° A crisis “is a terrible thing to waste”. Sometimes you can not get out of the way of a rhino and you will be trampled. Then it is important not to lie down but to get up, to carry out repair work, and where possible also to make improvements with respect to the old situation.

5 ° Stay downwind. The best leaders respond to a threat if it is still far away. Because they know that the costs and the chances of impact only increase with procrastination. In doing so, you must distance yourself from group thinking and other bias mentioned in the book. Unfortunately, not everyone follows president Kennedy’s advice “It’s time to fix the roof when the sun shines”.

6 ° Be a rhino spotter, become a rhino keeper. A person who sees a (obvious or not) great danger coming to the organization, that is ignored by others. Someone who speaks out loud when others are silent. That is where the first step to success begins. Then you have to get others to come along. Identifying a need is one thing, but the hard work lies in convincing and executing appropriate actions. You must therefore dare to go against the crowd. So you have to be a bit mad. But also courageous. Because it often requires a sacrifice of yourself.

The Politics of Crisis Management – Public Leadership under Pressure Second edition

Authors: Arjen Boin; Paul ‘t Hart; Eric Stern; Bengt Sundelius

In this book, the authors discuss aspects of managing crises. Although the examples throughout the book have been chosen from politics, the book is an added value for organizations in private sectors, because of the strategic aspects of crisis management that it discusses, which are rather universal. In broad terms, the book deals with the following topics:

Improving the sense making of the crisis
  •  There are several reasons why a leader does not see a crisis coming.
Threats that policymakers see in time are the ones that can best be managed. Similarly, the same applies to opportunities: if they are spotted in time, they can be used best.
But why don’t they see some of the threats?
In some cases, none of their employees looked in the direction of the threat. That is why leaders must take measures to drastically reduce the chance of such blind spots occuring. They must also be alert to what they were not told and what they do not see in the surrounding area.Secondly, they can be surprised because the pieces of the puzzle are divided over several agencies and they do not succeed in getting all the pieces together in time, let alone that they know if they have all the pieces at their disposal.Eventually it may be that some of them saw it, but they did not want to stick their neck out to tell the leader, or that they did not want to see it. This is partly the principle of the “Gray Rhino”.
  • A crisis can get out of hand if the leader fails to get a good picture of the events that occur.

In today’s society, with the current state of technology, people talk about “Big Data” when an event of some magnitude occurs. From data, information must be created that is then transformed into knowledge to be treated with wisdom.

That is why the leader must encourage his employees to work methodically in finding the relevant facts in the explosion of data coming from the Crisis Management Team. Although this is the work of the employees, the leader must be aware of how the information came about and was filtered before it was brought to him.

  • Crises that test the personal sense-capacities of leaders are felt by them as a torment.

Every person is limited. Learning to deal with this is not easy and requires courage and wisdom. Especially in the midst of a developing crisis.

Confused leaders can easily slip away into system 1 thinking, where very simplistic visions of the situation can be adopted, where stereotypes of other parties are assumed to be true, and where they can become susceptible to passivity, fatalism, or a hasty decision making and overconfident recklessness behaviour. Under such circumstances, their prudence and their ability to make a sober diagnosis diminishes.

Improve Decision making in the crisis

  • The rhetoric of the “leader at the top” has little to do with the reality of effective crisis decision making and the coordination.

To be sure of a good approach and a proper course of the crisis, it is best using a combination of strategic choices and corresponding operational actions. This does not mean that a single leader at the top or a small team must make all the decisions. The subsidiarity principle is more appropriate. People who can say something sensible about the situation because it is their specialism must be able to make their (local) decisions.

The leader can best delegate that what does not belong to his specialty but to that of another agency. Where explicit supervision is requested this can be done, but the question is whether that question should always come from the leader, except for the need to keep an overview.

  • . . . But the bill is finally presented to the top (leader).

Somewhere between a careless “flight into action” and a freeze provoked by fear, leaders must make critical decisions that they alone can take. Even in the heat of the “struggle”, at the height of the crisis, strategic choices and normative considerations are essential in their functioning, their reasoning and in making choices.

  • In coordinating crisis response, planning (making the plans in advance) is more important than the plans (that they use at the time of the crisis itself).

Leaders must assume that the crisis will go differently than the plan of action stipulates. Even if their employees predict the right crisis. Even if everyone agrees on the nature of the crisis. The plan will fail, the necessary funds for the actions will be wrongly estimated. Training of employees who “have to do the job in the field” is necessary. The whole process of the crisis will have to be closely monitored. Deviations from the desired evolution will have to be corrected.

A crisis, by definition, disturbs the stable situation and creates uncertainty. It challenges the authorities to challenges that they are not used to and that they can never fully grasp in a previously drafted plan. Every correct crisis response therefore contains improvisations, which require flexibility and resilience rather than paper plans.

Improving the meaning making of the crisis.

  • Leaders who can not communicate skillfully can not lead in a crisis.

People try to understand their situation in times of uncertainty and discontinuity. They ask questions like “Why did this happen?” And “Why was this not prevented?”. In addition, they want to know what their leaders have done to prevent it. Or what they did to keep the crisis to a minimum. This is the collective concept formation. Several actors will provide their vision. (For example the media.) A kind of assessment can be drawn up from this. The media will “scrutinize” the leaders.

This means that the ability to create an image and an understanding of the situation is a very useful feature, and very helpful in setting a desired course of the crisis. Therefore, the art of “story telling” and the accompanying understanding of its underlying mechanism why a story can catch on and when not, is very important.

Unfortunately, leaders are often tempted to make a story that is created through their system 1 thinking on the basis of quick-by-the-turn arguments that seem to give an explanation at first glance. In addition, they sometimes make huge promises. This is a basic error.

Improve the Termination of a crisis and Accounting

  • Crises do not stop by themselves. They must be ended.

It is very tempting to consider the end of the operational actions as the same as the end of the crisis. That is not the case, because the political aftermath and aftercare follow their own logic. Various actors in the crisis will systematically explore the aftermath of the crisis to seek opportunities, which can be encouraged. But some also seek opportunities to attack their opponents, to seek praise or to initiate reforms or to make a profit on the hood of third parties (victims). That is why it is important to formally put an end to the crisis, also politically. That moment, however, the leader must determine carefully. And for this reason (currently) no (generally) valid criteria apply.

  • Accounting after a crisis is desirable and inevitable, but it is not without risk politically.

All involved actors will evaluate their positions, and possibly defend them. This happens especially when there are some involved who bear responsibility in the story. In addition to the media, formal institutional organizations will also identify responsibilities by means of legal steps eg in legal, political and professional arenas. These various, but often interwoven, responsibility-allocating processes do not necessarily have to escalate into an aggressive blaming game. But exactly that happens often and is a thing for the leaders to keep in mind.

  • . . . But to have it always as a “name, shame and blame” game would make it a “Self-destructive Prophecy”.

So instead of dreaming of a victory, leaders can better keep another scenario in mind, namely that of the black sheep because of polarization by the media, among others. In times when governments are easily victimized by polarization, leaders often run the risk of being hit by the social “blame & shame game”. In itself, nobody is actually served with it. It is often an attempt at a quick win from opponents.

Improve learning from the crisis situation

  • Drawing lessons should be more than copying seemingly successful policies and categorically rejecting what failed elsewhere.

When leaders are faced with a new crisis, they can never assume that it is similar to a previous crisis. They can not rely on a tried and tested repertoire of techniques. This can be a reasonable approach to the level where there are similarities. It will thus remove some of the leader’s uncertainty and increase the reaction speed and efficiency of the crisis response team.

But the present is not a copy of the past. Leaders can easily be misled into categorically implementing everything that has helped in a similar case from the past, without noticing that the crisis is taking a different turn. That is why meta-learning is also important. Classify the crisis into categories and think at a higher level within the Crisis Management Team in order to manage and adjust the Crisis Response Team depending on the turn of the crisis. (So ​​”learning to learn”.) The system 2 thinking is important in order to adjust the system 1 thinking.

  • Learning from crises means that you have proactive, interactive and continuous crisis planning processes.

Crisis management sometimes requires cooperation agreements across different (types of) boundaries. Such forms of cooperation (eg in working groups) must be established before a crisis takes place. Private Public Co-operations are necessary because a lot of vital resources come from the private sector. Operational activities must be shaped in conjunction with a general vision of how to manage crisis management. That vision on crisis management is in itself a result of political deliberation that must be fixed in advance. Once again, planning is more important than the plan.

  • Erasing everything and starting all over is often not the best way to learn from a crisis.

Crises are too often the result of a chain reaction on a political level or in high-risk technological systems. In particular, crises do not correspond one-on-one with the tasks of agencies or specialists.

It can be argued that in most cases the worst-case scenario (the whole system has failed, so everything has to be done differently) does not apply, and sometimes even does not exist. A better way of learning from the crisis stems from a leadership of “dynamic conservatism”. This strategy defends the idea of ​​core values ​​and the institutional commitment and obligations. It encourages leaders to flexibly adjust policy structures and modus operandi of public organizations to the oppressive context of crises rather than give in to the temptation of grand reformist rhetoric.

Conclusions:

  • Sense making:
    • Detecting (an) emerging threat (s).
    • Ensure that policymakers get a firm grip on what is going on.
    • Provide what next events will / can be.
  • Decision making and coordinating:
    • To shape the overarching direction and coherence of the common efforts.
    • To respond in a cohesive way to the crisis.
  • Meaning making:
    • Actively shaping the public understanding of the crisis.
    • This if it is possible in a democratic, mediatised political system.
    • The purpose of this is to align the common definition of the crisis in such a way.
    • Make it possible to work efficiently on the desired direction.
    • Let the crisis evolve towards a desired situation.
  • Accounting:
    • Taking control of the democratic process of explaining the ideas that were there and the actions that were taken.
    • This is tested against the values ​​of the government and the citizens.
    • With the aim of achieving closure with citizens and government with regards to the crisis.
    • This is necessary so that the community and politics can go further.

In the event of a crisis, certain characteristics of existing institutions, policies and customs can be harmed without the possibility of recovery.

  • Learning from the situation:
    • Drawing lessons and seizing opportunities
    • Reconsider and reform these characteristics of existing institutions, policies and practices in a follow-up period.

These issues are, as formulated here, all aspects of strategic crisis management as this can be applied by a government to its functioning and for the benefit of its society. However, by simply reading it all with the government in mind as an organization that also has to deliver its services to society, all this is (not always easy) translatable to strategic crisis management for private organizations. As a result, this book is a good dues for holistic crisis management, in addition to other books on operational crisis management, for which more literature is available.