Command and Control Response Structure

In the article, “Turning Disaster Response on its Head”, posted on Continuity Insights Magazine, John Orlando from National Life Group, offers some good commentary on crisis response behavior and how disaster response programs need to be aware of and employ techniques from lessons learned in recent events.

I think, however, that there is a little bit of apples and oranges being compared in the article.  I agree that a lack of a centralized Command and Control response structure will result in a sometimes effective, ad-hoc response from resourceful individuals, but I do not think that that supports the call to abandon the creation of a Command and Control structure at time of crisis.

John shares a number of examples where abandoning a top-down management model has resulted in creative and productive solutions in the corporate world.  The problem with this theory is, all of those examples required time and trail-and-error environments – during a crisis you do not have the luxury of either of those traits.

Throughout his article, John frequently uses the term “harness the power”.  I ask, who is it that is “harnessing the power” if not those in command and control?

What I gather from John’s article is that in planning our Crisis Response / Emergency Response structure we should be aware of the lessons learned from past events where the Command and Control structure was inadequate and ad-hoc organization took over to fill in the gaps; and, how the proliferation of the social network media has added a new dimension to our response communication and information tracking process.  I think all of his examples highlight that the Command and Control structure was not well enough prepared and in place to handle the response – not that the Command and Control structure was the wrong approach to take.

I do not have access to the data or link at this time, but I do remember reading an article years ago where a military study suggested that the best management style during times of peace is the participatory management style, but at time of crisis, the most effective management style is the command and control style.

I love the information John shares with us in his article and I think there is much value to be gained by the Emergency Management professional in reading John’s article, I just don’t draw the same conclusion about this information “Turning Disaster Response on its Head.”

Thank you for your input.