Posts Categorised: Crisis Management

Leading, Not Managing, in Crisis


“Imagine you were the person at BP headquarters in 2010 who got the first call: A drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico had exploded and sunk, killing 11 workers—and allowing oil to leak into the ocean at a rate of 43 barrels a minute. What would you do? Which colleagues would you convene, and which of the myriad problems would you address first? Would you put out a press statement or a tweet or send a spokesperson to the scene? Would your focus be on managing the situation—or actually leading the company through it?” The author reviews a number of books on crisis leadership including one held by AIPM Library.

Source: McGinn, D. (2017). Harvard Business Review and available from this link (personal registration required).

It’s meaning making, stupid! Success of public leadership during flash crises



“Boin (2013) and others propose that public crisis leadership consists of several core tasks, among which crisis decision-making and meaning making stand out in “flash crises.” We however argue that successful leadership during a sudden crisis implies being visible and appealing to the public in need of hearing that the shattered world will be healed. When being visible and using the right rhetoric, public leaders are by and large automatically considered proficient crisis decision makers, that is “the right leader in the right place at the right time.”

Source: Helsloot, I., & Groenendaal, J. (2017). Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management and available from this link (subscription journal).

Whole of Government: the Solution to Managing Crises?

Kangaroo Paw/PaperMonkey

“The frequency and severity of natural disasters has placed a clear emphasis on the role of governments in responding to these crises. During the past decade, disaster events have had a significant impact on the relevant communities as well as raising questions regarding the role of government and the bureaucratic coordination of planning and response processes. These events have placed a renewed focus on the ability of governments to plan, prepare, and respond in an effective way to crises. They have also tended to indicate that there remain serious challenges to government coordination and that crises create a unique series of challenges for the public sector.”

Source: Carayannopoulos, G. (2017). Australian Journal of Public Administration, 76(2), and available from this link (subscription journal).

How do people make high stakes decisions?

Spit to Manly Walk/Flickr

“What goes into making high stake decisions? How do we react when we are confronted with a split second decision in the face of danger? And how does being under pressure shape the choices we make? Qantas pilot Richard de Crespigny had to make instinctive decisions based on years of experience, when one of the engines of QF32 exploded four minutes after take-off from Singapore. His quick thinking and expertise saved the lives of 469 people on board. How does time play into decision-making? Some people weigh up all the risks and go about it with reason, while others are impulsive and follow their hearts. John Taske was part of the infamous Everest Expedition when eight people lost their lives in 1996. John made a life-saving decision to turn back when only 198 metres from the summit.”

Source: SBS Insight 1 November 2016 45 mins and available from this link (open access).


Lessons from Kunduz: Prevent Disaster by Paying Attention to the Little Picture

'Manly Wharf'“In October 2015, an American AC-130 gunship rained devastating fire on a Doctors Without Borders hospital, killing 42. Last month, the Pentagon released a report detailing the chain of events that led to the catastrophic mistake. Immediately, debate began as to whether punishments meted out to 16 service members, including potentially career-ending suspensions, reprimands, and removals from command, were insufficient when compared with taking a route of criminal inquiry, or if, such tragedy has to be accepted as an inevitable consequence of the fog of war.”

Source: Spear, S. (2016). MIT Sloan Management Review blog comment and available from this link (open access).

Categories: Crisis Management

Skills for Multiagency Responses to International Crises

Collins Beach, Manly

“A scoping study of Australian government agency training needs in the latter half of 2013 indicated that stakeholder agencies continue to have difficulty in identifying and developing individual skills to enable people to operate effectively in a high-pressure crisis environment that requires an integrated civil-military-police response. Agencies highlighted the need to develop a ‘whole-of-government’ set of skills for civil-military-police interaction that would complement agency specific skills.”

Source: Australian Civil-Military Centre (ACMC) and available from this link.