Thursday, March 22, 2012

Northwest Emergency Management

Thanks to Pascal Schuback for the photo from yesterday's Emergency Management  magazine conference here in Seattle for public sector officials -- state, county, city and civic professionals who are the front line of emergency response and recovery.  I was impressed with the keynote addresses and the discussion that took place at the end as well.

Barb Graff, director of Seattle's office of emergency office management, set the tone when she characterized the work her team was doing as moving toward a more inclusive style.  Seattle leads the country in putting in place a succession plan to move retired professionals into a volunteer corps during disasters; in an ordinance put in place so that employees can donate vacation time, which is turned into cash and then donated for disaster relief; and in training it is doing with immigrants and refugees, to train trusted elders on safety equipment and practices.  She recommends a book she is currently reading, by Parker Palmer, titled "Healing the Heart of Democracy."

My colleague Garry Briese, former head of the fire chiefs association and former FEMA administrator for the Denver area, offered a provocative look at the flip side of leadership -- followership.  In identifying key traits of a follower, he presented us with several news makers, like Greg Smith from Goldman Sachs, whom he characterized as the ultimate follower, loyal and a challenger to leadership.  I was especially taken with his own story of speaking up in a meeting where an epithet had been used after having carefully considered and written down what he wanted to say.

Author Gerald Baron spent time on the power of social media, asking us what the following organizations had in common.  Can you guess?

Bank of America

And of course it is that each of these organization reversed course on decisions they had publicly announced after feeling the pressure of social media reaction.  He redefined "media" as "anyone who amplifies your message."

It was a terrific conference, that will take place in 13 more cities.  I am thrilled that the magazine is giving away a copy of  Advice From A Risk Detective  as a door prize in each of those cities.


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