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How executives learn from Critical Incident Command

At the moment I seem to find leading-in-crisisthat I am being approached by businesses interested in helping their people make decisions on their own. This means returning to my work on decision-making I first started in the late 1990s when I worked with the emergency services on incident command. Later I used the same concepts with the military, doctors and even the security services. Most recently I have been working with energy and the civil service. But whilst the fields I have worked in have varied, the challenges still seem to be the same. The questions I am asked to help businesses with are usually how can we equip our people to make good, timely decisions whilst they are being bombarded with information, working with geographically dispersed teams and the world is changing around them at a breakneck pace. Organisations want people to be questioning, original thinkers, have strong ethics and also to be good corporate citizens. And amongst all these competing forces, we expect them to master new technologies, manage hyper-uncertainty and process vast amounts of data.

In other words, the day-to-day experience of the executive is becoming more and more similar to that of the incident commanders I have been working with for nearly 20 years now. I find it fascinating to run simulations and decision training exercises that I designed for the uniformed services in a business environment. Most executives I speak to tell me they have never been trained in decision making outside perhaps of case studies on their MBA. It’s great to work with them and create a space where we can discuss risk, uncertainty, communication, teamwork in the context of critical decision-making. And it’s good to see how well-run organisations are making sure that their decision makers are supported and developed in the skill and art of making decisions.

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