Crisis Response and Transformation Initiatives

November 17th

At the National Academy of Public Administration’s Annual meeting the subject turned to the implications that the Leader’s Guide held for management in a crisis.  The moderator, Tom Timons of Federal Drive Time Radio, first asked what do we mean by a crisis? We were focused on planning for leadership in a crisis.  But what does that mean?

For me, a crisis in government is now an extremely broad and far reaching concern.  While the concept might have once been limited to natural security crises or the emergencies that are the mission of FEMA.  But today this has been considerably broadened as crises in our lifetime and recent memories range from the Arab Oil Embargo to the financial crisis and from Japan’s Tsunami to Katrina to the BP oil spill.

Crisis in government that generally does not respond with agility is any event where a critical parameter changes by a factor of 10.  The events that occur in the life of any company or government agency that Andy Grove of Intel called Strategic Inflection Points are now the crisis for which we are training future leaders.

The Playbook had at least two important points of intersection where leadership issues and the definition crisis becomes a critical leadership issue:  first, in the case where launching a large scale change program would clearly be suboptimal and second, where being in a crisis mode inevitably leads to a process that will repress innovation.

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