With the outbreak of the Coronavirus (Covid19), I wanted to reflect upon some associated and random thoughts one’s been having.

In a global, interconnected world, it is perhaps little surprise that the Coronavirus has broken loose out China and a global epidemic, perhaps potential pandemic, looms.

So, from an international, organisational and operational crisis response perspective, what lessons can we learn from the past, and the response so far?

Firstly, it is important one feels to take an integrated systems and ecosystem approach; and understand the complex and deep global inter dependencies which exist across both our personal and professional lives.

Secondly, such major events provide us with opportunities to learn. By their innate essence, events such as the global Cornavirus outbreak affords crisis management and business continuity professional grater scope to learn the lessons and to build future preparedness and resilience than do small scale events. No one would wish harm on anybody, but that same duty of care provides us with a moral imperative to learn lessons to protect others.

Thirdly, increasingly such ‘one off events cease to be just that. From SARS, through Hurricane Katrina, and terrorist events to the latest major UK flooding’s, such events seem to be increasing in frequency; and to the distress of those involved, there seems to be a worrying and weary failure of lessons learnt by ‘those in power’; at least in the minds of the ‘man and woman on the street’.

So, from a crisis management perspective, what transferable organisational, micro and macro lessons have been; do we still need to; and can we learn from the current Coronavirus outbreak?

There is without undoubtedly a need to recognise the critical importance of integrated and co-ordinated multiagency interoperability and command, control, collaboration, communication. Information and intelligence C4I2R networks and frameworks in order to rapidly and successfully respond to such crises.

Further, there is a need to develop rigorous and robust multinational C4I2R protocols and frameworks in order to successfully meet such global threats.

Next, in an age of AI, ML and immense technological power, it is critical that we radically reframe our perspective away from nebulous, ‘academic’ and static risk register, to dynamic, informed, intelligent and evidence based risk modelling, which through intelligence, trend and pattern analysis and prediction can better prepare us to meet such challenges by reframing ‘unprecedented’ and ‘unique’ events y placing them within an early warning frameworks; with critical triggers being found within an integrated ecosystem’ paradigm, so that we can turn unprecedented events into those which we can be informed from by previous precedents, even if they do not directly map.

In effect, the question becomes from a crisis management perspective, can we build and develop deep, dynamic taxonomies and corpora; to borrow from a language understanding and learning paradigm? By understanding the classes, nature, behaviour of ‘events’ and their structure’, we might potentially be better placed to combat them.

In terms of strategic risk, resilience and crisis response, we can perhaps, through such a dynamic taxonomy and corpus approach, develop agile, ‘evolutionary’ and adaptable ecosystem response frameworks, which will empower our responses.

The Coronavirus is, like others before it, reinforcing the plurality of interdependencies to be found in a dynamic and continually evolving ecosystem. At its’ most basic, the butterfly effect on people, places and organisations caused by a remote, let alone local crisis, can potentially have a totally disproportionate and asymmetrical effect.

So, what tangible, operational lessons can and should be learn.

  • Think about the scale and scope of a crisis – what turns a ‘major’ event into a crisis
  • Think the unthinkable -what is the worst-case scenario and plan for it.
  • Do we have appropriate and fit for purpose crisis response management ecosystems, framework and management systems in place?
  • Can we accept and do we really understand what is happening; and the potential ‘doomsday’ consequences?
  • Do we have the leadership, professional attributes and skills and ‘will’ to deal with a crisis; and more importantly not turn a major incident into a full-scale crisis?
  • How far are we ready, willing and able to go to respond? Are we proactive, reactive, and are we willing to perhaps destroy in order to successfully rebuild?
  • Does our crisis response management planning take an ecosystem approach and consider the ‘deep’, inter relational and dynamic nature of such crises?

And finally, people. Are we focused on the impact on people? Crisis management must be, first and foremost, about people and the impact upon their lives, and in turn societies and cultures. As such, the best crisis management understands and addresses human emotions and human factors, and the impact such can have on successfully meeting such crises.

And finally, we must be ready, willing and able to uses such crises as catalysts for change, improvement and to learn. Only then, will we be able to ensure that future preparedness and resilience is as good as it should be.