Early Warning Systems.

Last week’s floods in north-west Germany had a disastrous impact on a few unfortunate small towns and villages. The event was defined by its speed and ferocity, and the death toll was unusually high because of that. But it wasn’t the only reason.


The authorities were warned about the likelihood of rapid and severe impacts days in advance, but little or no action was taken. Early warning infrastructure was either non-existent in the affected areas or present but broken. Both of these failures resulted in unnecessary loss of life.


How prepared are you for a sudden impact?

Thankfully when things go wrong within an organization, the consequences are usually a lot less serious. But often, it’s only the impact that is sudden – the causes have been building for a while. That’s why anyone in a leadership position needs to consider whether they have sufficient visibility of and knowledge about potential problems before they become disasters.


Here are three recommendations to help you get that transparency:


3 Recommendations for Disaster Prevention


1) Ensure all staff are encouraged to proactively provide feedback, highlight potential problems and suggest solutions, ideally through a communications channel dedicated to that purpose – an email address, an intranet page, a Slack channel, etc.

2) Get out of your office and walk the halls on a regular basis. Ask questions, listen to the people on the front line and stress the importance of raising issues early – even if a potential “flood” never arrives.

3) If the likelihood of a specific issue such as a summer slowdown or a Christmas rush is known and likely to occur regularly (like heavy rainstorms in summer), have specific processes in place to ameliorate the impact. Then review and refine them continuously.


I’ve deliberately not included any links to my offerings this week. I would much rather you considered making a small donation to help the people affected by the floods here:

https://www.aktion-deutschland-hilft.de/en/donate/donate/.


Copyright Hamish Mackenzie, 2021