Published on March 12th, 2014 | by Rosie Ewbank0
Business Lessons from the Floods
During the recent flooding, Alium Partners’ office administrator Rosie Ewbank was mobilised as part of 71 Signal Regiment, an Army Reserve Unit. During her two week deployment on Operation Pitchpole, the provision of military relief to Local Authorities, she provided communication support in a number of locations.
Below she shares her experience and lessons that can be learned for businesses in such a challenging environment. (Please note that the below blog is from my own experiences and opinions and not necessarily those of the MoD).
The Flood and What Businesses Can Learn
I was mobilised in the middle of the ‘crisis’ phase when the flooding was at its peak along the Thames in Surrey effecting, among others, Egham, Datchet and Chertsey. The first week I was in Guildford at the Gold command centre, which was co-ordinating the relief effort across the military, blue lights services and the Environment Agency. Our primary objective was to ensure daily teleconferences occurred without a glitch, allowing effective command and control.
During the second week I was based at Regimental HQ in Bexleyheath, manning the Ops Room to ensure there was always a point of contact available. During the deployment three things stood out to me as being key to the success of the operation which I think make valuable business lessons:
With so many different organisations involved – Police, Fire, Ambulance, Environment Agency and Military – the need to work together was vital. Each agency brought their own specialist knowledge to the table, but also the manpower to deliver results when required. While the public saw the end results, for example the Chertsey Aquadam, they did not see the multi-agency planning and co-operation that got the defence from concept to construction.
This sort of co-operation is vital, especially in a crisis situation. The business lesson here is to ensure all departments co-operate to achieve goals and objectives.
All the uniformed services have different ways of working, rank structures and refined processes to best deliver their capabilities. Bringing them all to one location meant a myriad of IT systems, protocol and process were suddenly trying to work together, when they were designed in isolation. Clear communication was crucial, as was avoiding over-communication so as not to get bogged down in the detail of the decisions.
Again, there are business lessons to be learned. Businesses both in the public and private sector can learn from more effective communication in order to achieve set objectives.
Command and Control
Being based in a dry, warm building can be detrimental to keeping the reality of the situation in mind. As a result, commanders from all operations took every opportunity to ‘get out on the ground’ and see the circumstances they were dealing with for themselves. This situational awareness allowed them to make more informed decisions and plan the use of limited resources more effectively.
Those who are in command position in a boardroom should also ensure that they also “get out on the ground” in their businesses to match their perception with reality. The business lesson is simply to see what is happening on the frontlines.
What business lessons do you feel your organisation can learn from the flood response? Is your organisation well versed in communication, inter department co-operation, and leading from the front? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Photo Credit: DragonImages