Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

November 6, 2013

Free book: Navigating the Unknown: a practical lifeline for decision-makers in the dark

Filed under: Disaster — by Christopher Bellavita on November 6, 2013

Patrick Lagadec is the Research Director at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, France. He co-authored one of my favorite papers: How Crises Model the Modern World (available from the Journal of Risk Analysis and Crisis Response, at this link – http://www.atlantis-press.com/php/download_paper.php?id=2458.)

According to his website, (with my emphasis) Lagadec:

is [a] member of: the French Academy of Technologies, the European Crisis Management Academy. His research and expertise focus on crisis prevention and management in increasingly “unconventional” crisis environments; vulnerability and preparedness appraisal; in-crisis steerage – both public and private – of critical infrastructures and vital networks; post-crisis case study, debriefing and training; and the development of sustainable responses to shifting security paradigms and the new challenges of governance that complex systems have to face in the light of global “ruptures”.

Lagadec has made his 22 page book — Navigating the Unknown — available at no cost on the Crisis Response website.  Here’s a link to the book: http://www.crisis-response.com/PDF/Navigating_the_Unknown-Lagadec_2013.pdf

The book:

condenses years of research and field experience in the management and piloting of ‘out-of the-box’ crises. It is not only designed for leaders but also for citizens eager to rethink their own perspectives, visions and paths.

Navigating the Unknown is worth a read. It reminds, asserts, and challenges.

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November 6, 2013 @ 4:46 pm

[…] From fellow blogger Chris Belavita: see his posting today for a free download of Navigating the Unknown: A Practical Lifeline for Decision Makers in the Dark. […]

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 7, 2013 @ 3:16 am

Thanks Chris!

Comment by Jeff Kaliner

November 7, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

What a wonderful breath of fresh air!

As it occurs to me, this “kit” dares to speak a truth that many response professionals refuse to (publicly) acknowledge: the most well written plan or procedure is no match for an inherently complex world. I have heard it said many times that at some point the plan goes out the window…when that happens, what do we do?

In other words, best practices and lessons learned are not sufficient to deal with the unpredictable and the unordered systems that are the backdrop to many of the crises that we are facing. We can no longer rely on what we “know” from past experience. Thus, “piloting” through ambiguity and disorder is now a 21st century competency. This kit helps to define how we can begin to address these new ways of being that traditional response training does not address.

I believe that what Lagadec lays out is a vital component to the enlightened 21st century Emergency Manager’s tool kit. However, let me be clear, we do not have to throw the baby out with the the bath water. What we know (as in true best practice that is repeatable and predicable) has a place at the table.

However, we also need to get comfortable with “science in action” or “emerging practice” when it comes to working in systems that are less predictable. I believe the first step is to just acknowledge that these more complex and chaotic systems even exist. Then, we might have a chance.

Our culture likes simple…a pill for what ails us; media telling us how to think and feel; a plan that will save lives and reduce property damage. In my opinion, these things are illusions. The world is not simple and the increasingly complex systems that we have created will only make our world more unpredictable and ambiguous in the future.

We need a new way to think about our practice and our work. Lagadec offers a thoughtful and considered alternative.

Read this guide and take it to heart. And then read it again.

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September 1, 2014 @ 2:54 pm

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