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

Decisions Under Stress

By Guy Higgins

I recently read a very disturbing book – Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air.  The book recounts the story of several simultaneous expeditions climbing Mount Everest in 1996.  A little bit of background first.  Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world at 29,028 feet, was first climbed in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, his Sherpa guide.  Since then, the mountain has been climbed numerous times, and starting in the late 1980’s commercial ventures have guided paying customers to the summit.

Krakauer’s story focuses on the expedition, led by Rob Hall, of which he was a part, as well as the expedition led by Scott Fischer.  He also discusses the interaction these two expeditions had with other groups climbing Everest at the same time (Taiwanese, Japanese, South African groups and one solo climber). Continue reading

IT Kidnapping

By Guy Higgins

I know that there will be some people who will take offense at this, or at least I certainly hope so, but I think it needs to be said.

I was perusing one of my discussion groups recently and I came across the statement, “… data recovery is not business recovery…“  I was excited – I thought that I had finally encountered someone who “got it” – someone who understood the concept that recovering from a business disruption was more than just accessing backed up data from “the cloud.”.  Well, sigh, I was wrong (first time ever).  The post was about needing multiple, geographically dispersed data back up sites and gave no thought to the many other disasters that could befall a business besides a loss of data. Continue reading

Leadership in a Crisis: Professional or “Pick-up”?

By Guy Higgins

I was meeting with a potential client last year when I was challenged that planning to respond to emergency or crisis situations was an unnecessary effort and expense.  “As a leader that’s what I get paid for – to respond to situations out of the ordinary.  I don’t get paid my salary for running the daily operations; the staff does that.”

Needless to say, that was not quite the attitude that I expected.  Very few leaders to whom I have spoken have expressed the idea that they can handle, ad hoc, anything that comes their way.  I’m certain that most experienced leaders can handle the majority of the bumps, hiccups, glitches and SNAFUs that get dropped on their desks.  That ability is a good thing since we can’t have a plan for everything and we can’t take the time to put together detailed plans for responding to a sprained ankle in the lobby – we rely on our experience and many of the standard operating procedures we’ve put in place over time.  Sprained ankle?  Help the person to a chair and call the person on the first aid list.  No problem. Continue reading

We Often Predict – But We Fail to Anticipate

By Guy Higgins

I was listening to a webinar recently, and I heard the presenter say that Superstorm Sandy was unpredictable.  That kind of set me off (which happens a lot these days) and has brought me to my old reliable goose-quill pen and inkpot here (okay, so it’s a MacBook Pro and MS Word).  First, I looked up “predict.”  Here’s a definition (not mine): “A prediction is a statement about the way things will (emphasis is mine) happen in the future, often but not always based on experience or knowledge.”

So next I looked up “anticipate.”  Here’s that definition: “Regard as probable.”  I resonate much better with this the term “anticipate” – “We anticipate that there will be between five and twenty hurricanes in 2013.”  That means that there is some probability (which we could capture as a number, say probability of 0.80) of our experiencing between five and twenty hurricanes in 2013. Continue reading

Not If But When

Preparing for a World Behaving Badly

By Guy Higgins

The news today is replete with articles about the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  A man pulls a gun at a gas station – out of sheer frustration.  People and businesses without electrical power can expect to stay that way for a week or more.  New York City subways are expected to be out of service for over a week.  Utility crews pelted with eggs by frustrated customers.  Generators located in flooded basements.

Why is this happening?  Obviously, the first answer that comes to mind is that the US East Coast was hit by Hurricane Sandy.  I’ll assert that Hurricane Sandy is not the reason that millions of Americans are living in genuinely primitive conditions – the real reason is that far too many people, businesses, companies, organizations and governments were not really ready to respond to the disruptions caused by the storm. Continue reading

Hazing – Multiple Leadership Failures: A Second Coda

By Guy Higgins

Obviously, this is a topic that strikes me as important – since this is my third post on it.

I’ve discussed leadership failures associated with two instances of hazing at universities.  I want to stress, that, in both of these cases, there is risk of an additional leadership failure with potentially serious damage to the universities, to the local Greek chapters and to the national Greek organizations.  The additional failure in leadership is a failure to be prepared for a “brand-threatening” social media storm. Continue reading

Leadership Lessons from Columbine

Guy Higgins

I had the opportunity this week to attend a three-day symposium, titled “The Colorado Briefing…A National School Safety Leadership Symposium at Columbine.”  It was held in the auditorium of Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

It was an intense three days, with detailed, minute-by-minute, descriptions of four school shooting.  These incidents occurred over an eleven-year period within a 38-miles radius in Jefferson and Park Counties.  Building upon those descriptions, speakers described the lessons learned and the programs and processes they have since developed to reduce the likelihood of future incidents and to create a common approach to issues surrounding these kinds of incidents (police response, media attention, anxious and angry parents). Continue reading