G.B. Reschenthaler & Fred Thompson
patterns in each country, evolved rightly to nurture cooperative behavior within it, acts to inhibit a) highly discretional behavior among national agencies, and b) among agencies of other countries?
In this vein, I wonder, for example, to what degree there could be systematic differences between countries with traditions of common law compared to those following code law? And the list quickly expands to consider the variations in internal incentives, work rules, accounting practices, etc.
All of these can be scrutinized in terms of the inhibiting or enabling affect on self-organized recombination. As far as I know, this way of understanding the affects of consistency and control maintaining processes upon responding to surprises (unknowns, sometime unknown unknowns) has not been of interest. When considering “crisis management” in the future, they should be.
As national differences become better understood, one suspects that both the opportunities and difficulties of analysis, and then operational adjustment and training will be much more apparent. What then, for analysis, training and operations -- the point of this conference.
Theme Four: Crisis Speak and Design Frames?
In writing this memorandum, again and again, I found that the regular language of organizational analysis did not serve very well in terms, concepts and effective means of describing the dynamics one can imagine when managing to embrace rude surprises. And there is clearly a need to think carefully about the analytical terms of reference, as well as the views the public, but especially overseers, have concerning what is possible and what could be expected in the prosecution of crisis management. I wondered about the need for a dialect of crisis response evaluation – in parallel to current language of productive efficiency.
We now think warmly about increasing productive efficiency in public service. What would this mean if criteria for efficiency were also to include, say, , that is, assuring situations that result in intrinsically less consequential crises over many generations of operations. When efficiency advances reduce slack resources, these resources are not available to facilitate
taking up new functions, covering unfamiliar coordination cost, or invest in distilling lessons learned from the new rude surprise. Could there be a way of framing “crisis preparation/embracing costs” so that they can be included in strategic planning? (These are in a sense the costs associated with having an uncommitted financial reserve and as importantly the costs of not planning in advance to encumber 100+ per cent of executive time for each year. In some situations, executives calculate the up to 20 per cent of the actual decision time was spent on problems that were novel and unexpected.)
A related aspect of this would be straight forwardly designing technical and operational systems to fail gracefully. This tactic is sometimes featured in military hardware systems and other operations depending on intrinsically very hazardous technologies. Fail safe or safe failing systems intrigue engineers, though this is rarely proposed for the design of large-scale institutions, or put forward as what should be done for public policies, say in genetically modified food, national pollution control, or ecological protection programs.