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Can a crisis make you a celebrity?

Picture of man speaking to the press
Ready or not.  Say, “Cheese!”

While artists, athletes, and performers struggle to make their mark in the public eye with a memorable act or viral moment, a different type of celebrity has been emerging on the scene - the spokesperson for a crisis.

Here’s a quick exercise to highlight the point:

Jeffrey Boyd, Lew Frankfort, and Stephen Hemsley. Do these names sound familiar?
If not, don’t feel bad. They are the CEO’s of Priceline.com, Coach, and UnitedHealth Group, respectively.

Now, how about the names Tim Cook and James Comey?
We can immediately recall them as the CEO of Apple and the FBI Director, respectively, feuding over a locked iPhone involving a federal investigation of the San Bernardino shooting.

The media diligently covered Cook and Comey’s debate for more than three months. During that time, both men emerged as stars in a cast of characters ranging from lawyers, judges, politicians, and even presidential candidates. The media and public tuned in to hear their perspectives on data privacy, security, technology, civil rights, and terrorism.

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Should global organizations have a global security operations center (GSOC)?

“How did you go bankrupt?”
“Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

- Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

I was working with a head of risk management—the chief risk officer—at a global organization that does not have a GSOC. One night over dinner, I asked him why his organization didn’t have one, and suggested he spearhead the initiative. His response? “I’m not convinced we need one. The organization has always operated without a GSOC, so why start now?” He also said, “The reality is, we’re already doing it here and there. The system works fine. Let people do their thing.” Something that seemed so obvious to me and so unnecessary to him left me on the defensive and him on offense.

The reality is, if you’re a global organization, you need a GSOC—or some version of it. If you don’t have one, you will need to communicate the severity of the situation and get one. Allow me to illustrate the need for such capabilities so you can justify the business case to your leadership and board…

GSOC

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Fresh perspectives: insights

What happens when we’re in a crisis we haven’t seen before, and our experience is insufficient? Such a situation requires us to gain “insight,” or develop new patterns that change the way we understand things and consequently, change the actions we consider. Research psychologist Gary Klein investigated the different ways that people form insights, and the factors that prevent us from having them.

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Fresh perspectives: crisis management team

There are certain challenges that face a crisis management team in the “Golden Hour,” the moment when team members convene to make critical decisions. Research psychologist Gary Klein discusses the need for team members to size up not only the situation, but also each other’s capabilities, roles, and responsibilities at time of event. That’s why it’s key for a crisis management team to regularly practice and train together.

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Fresh perspectives: uncertainty metaphors

How do most organizations handle uncertainty? They gather more information. Research psychologist Gary Klein explains why this isn’t always the best course of action. After all, it’s easy to gather information and sit on it; it’s harder to know how to make sense of events, and make a coherent story based on the data we have.

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Fresh perspectives: recognition-primed decision model

How can leaders make good decisions under the extreme time constraints of a crisis? To find out, research psychologist Gary Klein studied fire fighters to understand their approach to making crucial, complex decisions so quickly. The recognition-primed decision (RPD) process, as he explains, reveals how these professionals assess the situation: they compare familiar patterns and cues to past experiences to know which actions to take.

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Understanding the risk environment: Sean Murphy discusses nonlinear environment with Gary Klein

I had the pleasure to interview Gary Klein the author of “Seeing What Others Don’t,” “Streetlights and Shadows,” “Working Minds,” and “Sources of Power.” His research and experience is invaluable to anyone in the field of risk management. In this interview, Gary talks about the difference between a well-ordered domain (i.e., normal business environment) and complex domain (i.e., crisis environment). Understanding the characteristics and attributes of each environment is critical to understanding what tools, processes, and capabilities needed to be successful in each environment.

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