War Games Part II

By Guy Higgins

Last week, we published a post re-emphasizing a 2014 blog on war gaming/exercising emergency response plans, and I promised that this week I would continue with thoughts on crisis management.

Crisis management, unlike emergency response, is focused on controlling the unfolding crisis after (and even during) the emergency response team’s activity to protect people and then property. The Crisis Management Team (CMT) is a very different group of people and they’re seldom actually at the location of the actual emergency. They’re people with the authority to allocate resources to resolve the crisis and get the organization back to normal operations. Continue reading

Communicating in a Crisis – Tarnishing Or Burnishing Your Brand

By Guy Higgins

On December 28th, AirAsia flight 8501 was flying from Surabaya to Singapore when it disappeared from radar.  The disappearance of AirAsia 8501 immediately brought to mind Malaysia Airlines flight 370, which disappeared on March 8th of last year.  While there has been no resolution of the fate of Malaysia Airlines 370, we now know that AirAsia flight 8501 crashed and all aboard were killed.

Both of these losses were immediate crises for the respective airlines, both affected over one hundred families and both drew enormous public attention.  However, the effectiveness with which the two airlines responded to these crises and communicated with the public, the families of passengers and the authorities differed enormously. Continue reading

“Two Guys with Great Athletic Ability …”

By Guy Higgins

I was watching the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers in one of the NFL playoff games over the weekend, and one of the announcers (some of whom can actually construct grammatically correct and meaningful sentences) said (talking about the two opposing quarterbacks), “There are two guys with great athletic ability.”

That immediately struck me as a silly thing to say.  They are professional athletes – arguably among the very best professional athletes in the country.  Of course they have great athletic ability.  That, however, is not why they are in the playoffs.  Those two men (and their counterparts on other playoff teams) are there because they have great intellectual ability in addition to their athletic abilities.  It isn’t good enough to be big and fast and strong and quick.  They have to be able to use those raw physical abilities with intelligence and with experience. Continue reading

Practicing – the Fundamentals, the Skills, and the Game Plan

By Guy Higgins

Much to the surprise of many of you, I’m sure, I’m a sports fan (at least those things I think of as sports).  I was scanning the sports page today and there was a long article about Peyton Manning and his performance in training camp this year.

For those of you who aren’t followers of the arcane and trivial, a little background first.  Three years ago at the end of his last season playing for the Indianapolis Colts, Peyton Manning had a major operation on his neck – it was the latest of several operations on his neck, shoulder and arm, and there was a great deal of concern about his ability to return to his Most-Valuable-Player performance level.  He spent a year in physical therapy rehabbing.  Last summer, Peyton left the Colts and was signed by the Denver Broncos.  Still a lot of muttering from the talking heads – everyone had a definitive opinion about whether or not the Broncos were taking a big risk.  Well, Peyton had a “reasonably good” year – the Broncos went 13-3 and were tied for the best record in the American Conference.  Continue reading

Train the Way …

By Guy Higgins

When I was working in the Pentagon (lo, these many years ago), I sat in on a brief presented to my boss by the Air Force.  The topic was the projected early retirement of F-16 airframes due to flight-maneuver-induced fatigue.  In training, the pilots were flying the airplanes at higher and more frequent “G” loads than had been expected.

The F-16 was one of the first computer controlled airplanes – fly by wire.  Advances in aerodynamics and flight control meant that pilots now had an airplane that could turn harder and faster than ever – it could “pull ten G’s.”  That means the force exerted by the turning airplane was ten times the force of gravity.  That’s a lot.  But in air combat, speed and maneuverability reign supreme.  Give a pilot a better tool, and he (the experience about which I am blogging here was so long ago that all the fighter pilots were men) will use it.  During combat, pilots are not ever going to say to themselves, well, if I turn more slowly, I’ll be at a higher risk of losing the fight, but I’ll save airframe fatigue life.  Aside from the fact that most pilots don’t know words that big, that idea is crazy.  Use everything you’ve got. When the requirements for the F-16 were being set, the leadership should have recognized that pilots would use everything they have. That mind set isn’t going to change during training – nor should it. Continue reading