Resilience strictly speaking – Disaster management: Red Ants, Gray Rhino's, Black Swans, and the relation between BCM, Risk Management (RM) and Crisis Management (CM)

Author: Manu Steens

A first question I ask myself: how do these concepts relate to one another?

The following figure of disasters can offer a solution: this is about known knowns.

This table provides a minimalistic sketch as an answer to the question “What can Disasters be like?

In addition, there are Unknown Knowns such as the Gray Rinho’s.

These are things that come to us, that we know they are there, but that we choose not to see, or forget about them.

Gray Rhino’s are not divisible in well-known or poorly known probability and impact. The impact is great. The probability is great. They are always well-known in terms of probability and impact, and thus fit within the quadrant of Disasters, as follows:

Known Unknowns also exist. These are things we know that are there but we do not know exactlywhat they are. Therefore we can not treat them. These can not be classified with a probability or impact. The consequences may or may not be known. The odds equally. If the consequences are large, but not actively known, and the probability is estimated low, but it suddenly occurs, without any expectation of the event, we speak of a Black Swan. The turkey does not know why the farmer always gives him food, but could have suspected it from a suspicious “Why” question. But the turkey does not know the Christmas party, and can not really assess the probability.

Finally there are Unknown Unknowns. We do not know that we do not know them.

Not only do we not know the probability and the impact, we do not know the event, we do not know the reason, we do not know the consequences. So we can not give a foresight example of this. Unless you look back on the past (Hindsight). Was it right of the priest to save Adolf Hitler from drowning, when he had fallen through the ice as a child?

It is the intention of Resilience management to get to know as many of these four groups as possible and to push them back within the possibilities of the disasters square.

This provides a possible way to frame resilient needs. Where is CM, however? The answer is: everywhere. In all 4 groups, CM actively takes action when a threat manifests itself. Because the known knowns are best known, it is always an advantage to elaborate and prepare RM.

Question 2: what are historically the added values of BCM, RM and CM?

The known added values already known for these three disciplines, are:

  • Compliance with legislation and with clients
  • Protection of the reputation of the organization and the strength of the brand
  • For the time being: competitive advantage
  • Operational improvements
  • Capturing the knowledge and experiences
  • Value protection

Question 3: what are the “new” added values ​​of BCM & RM?

The new added values according to ISO 31000 are:

  • Value creation, and therefore also
  • Included opportunities

Value creation

  • By studying the threats in new and existing projects and processes, these threats can be tackled so that they happen with a greater probability of success and with less costs in the aftercare phase.
  • This also increases the quality of the output and the outcomes, enabling a stronger positioning in the market, which attracts potential customers.
  • This immediately improves the reputation, creating a positive spiral that reflects in a better market value of the organization and generates a positive effect on the stock market.
  • By applying RM in its projects, the government organizations will mutatis mutandis create added value on a social level, which also means more income for the governments and thus create a positive value spiral for society.

Included opportunities

  • When an opportunity presents itself, it can be recorded correctly, in the sense that the risks run by the organization are known and can be tackled in order to optimize its probabilities of success.
  • Because RM has an ‘outlook’, threats, but also opportunities, are better and faster seen.
  • Because there is systematic reporting that is integrated into all layers of the organization and the processes and projects of the business, the policy can assess the opportunities better and faster correctly.

These added values also apply to BCM.

Question 4: what is the most important added value of CM?

What I really want to know is what is expected by the co-workers and by society.

People expect more and more from organizations. They desire certainty in uncertain times. This is what the organization has to do:

  • Deal with the threat
  • Meet the urgency
  • Fight the uncertainty

Deal with the threat

Threats are relative and personal. There are also general threats that affect us all. Perhaps the best example is terror. Although terrorist attacks demand far fewer casualties than fine dust year after year, it affects the people personally through the choice of method, place of occurrence and the timing. They choose these well to maximize fear. This fear touches everyone personally, because there is arbitrariness where when and how one can be a victim. The society does not know, and as a result, everyone of the potential victims address their anger against the perpetrators.

Meet the urgency

Urgency is personal. A potential crisis that affects you personally is usually urgent as long as you are still hoping for opportunities to escape from it.

Fight the uncertainty

The organization mainly does this by making a division into operational management, communication management and strategic management.

With the operational management the organization can show that the problem is being addressed. Counter actions take place and there are claims to be observed. With the strategic management the organization can do sensemaking, and give an understanding to the people of where they stand. The organization can also indicate its actions, explaining the reasons for these actions, to include its liabilities. Also to learn lessons, to avoid the problems in the future. With the communication management, the organization can make itself be heard about the situation, that it is working on the problem, and what the expectations are.

Question 5: And now this: What about Red Ants?

Is this yet another invention to describe risks? No, actually not. It is a disaster type that is naturally present: incidents with small to moderate impact and small to high probability, but with the possibility to grow into a Black Swan or a Gray Rhino very quickly.

Black Swans (Nicolaas Taleb): very small probabilities, very big impacts.
Gray Rhino’s (Michèle Wucker): Very big probabilities, very big impacts
Red Ants: Very big probabilities, smaller impacts.

Often Red Ants are the small incidents without major consequences that are a warning of imperfections in the safety of a system or organization. Usually a large number of red ants precede a gray rhino or a black swan. In addition to the fact that red ants are an annoying phenomenon in the field of security they are a reason to extinguish a lot of fires, and they therefore have a serious warning function. This is: find the root cause and tackle it thoroughly, otherwise sooner or later really big accidents happen.

So every “animal species” is therefore to be taken seriously.

Question 6: And what can you do about it?

Well, let’s present this schematically in the disaster management table:

Conclusion:

  • CM Exercises are the most necessary aspect in disaster management.
  • Risk management includes preventive measures and protective measures (by analogy with the bow-tie analysis method).
  • Uncertainties have the characteristic that probabilities are poorly known but the impacts are better known. Usually because causes are poorly known. As a result, there is a particular need for protective measures.
  • Ambiguities have the characteristic that impacts are poorly known but the probabilities are better known. Usually because consequences are poorly known. As a result, there is a particular need for preventive measures.
  • In the event of unkown probabilities and impacts, the focus must be on the lookout, to estimate unexpected matters in a timely manner and to incorporate measures in the policy of the organization on a continuous basis.

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.