Activate Us

Our activation procedure including contact details and forms for activation, in addition to equipment stockpile and aviation status reports can be found here.

Emergency Contact Numbers

Please note that:

Response services are guaranteed ONLY for Members. Non-members are not guaranteed a response and will be required to sign a Non-member contract. Services and rates differ. Duty managers can be contacted for exercises.

Oil Spill Response Limited Oil Spill Response Limited
  • Podcast
  • Crisis Management

The OSRL Podcast: The Response Force Multiplier - Episode 5

In this episode, we join OSRL's Incident and Crisis Management Lead, Dave Rouse, and guests as they reflect on critical crisis management lessons and strategies for navigating uncertainty.

  • By Dave Rouse
  • févr. 28, 2024
hero image

Navigating Uncertainty: Lessons Learned and Strategies for 2024

In this episode of the Response Force Multiplier podcast, host Emma Smillie, OSRL Incident and Crisis Management Lead Dave Rouse, and performance under pressure specialists Andy Couch and Dean Wasche reflect on critical crisis management lessons and strategies for navigating uncertainty in 2024. 

As the discussion unfolds, gain insights into the imperative for comprehensive crisis management training and workforce preparedness. From the necessity of equipping non-emergency responders with mental skills to the utilisation of real-time feedback and kinesthetic learning, the conversation explores innovative approaches to maximising training impact and building organisational resilience.

Throughout the dialogue, practical strategies and actionable insights are shared, illuminating pathways for organisations to navigate uncertainty and optimise their response capabilities in the year ahead. Join the Response Force Multiplier team as they chart a course towards enhanced preparedness and resilience in the face of ever-changing challenges.

Podcast Transcript


crisis, exercise, leaders, talking, crisis management, structures, training, team, performance, day, bit, organizations, clients, work, impact, learning, pressure, resilience, important, individuals


Emma Smillie, Dean Wasche, Andy Couch, Dave Rouse


Emma Smillie  00:02

Hello, and welcome to the Response Force Multiplier, a podcast that explores emergency planning and response. On the Response Force Multiplier, we bring together compelling experts and thought leaders to provide a fresh take on key issues and cutting edge techniques in this field. In each episode, we'll dive into one aspect. And we'll use OSRL's unique pool of experts and collaborators to distill that down into actual tools and techniques for better preparedness and response to incidents and emergencies. My name is Emma Smillie. We are oil spill response. And this is the Response Force Multiplier. In this episode, we're going to take a look back at last year, and do a little bit of forward looking to this year, we're going to extract some key insights that can help us all arm ourselves for the future. I'm here today with Dave Rouse incident and  crisis management lead at OSRL, and Andy Couch and Dean Wasche experts performing under pressure. We'll be talking about what works well. And what needs more thinking through and how organizations can get the most value out of their crisis preparedness programs. We're going to begin by revisiting the key events and developments in 2023. Dean, you had some reflections you wanted to share.


Dean Wasche  01:20

When we were chatting the other day, Emma, you reminded me of that perma crisis term, which sort of gained popularity at the end of 2022. I guess we're still in it really. So you know 2023 we saw more volatility and uncertainty in obviously, the war in Ukraine continues. We saw the devastating terrorist attacks of Hamas in Israel. And then the aftermath of that, as we move into 24, we're now into some major election cycles in a lot of the major economies, obviously the UK, US specifically, but others as well. I guess it all just adds to that general uncertainty, unease for some people. And so I guess there's a lot of good work, you know, a lot of good commentary around building resilience in organizations around the importance of countering cybersecurity threats. Looking at the resilience of supply chains, I think there's been a lot of good work been done,  more of course do. I wonder though, if there's been enough focus on supporting employees, most organizations will proudly state that their organizations are their employees and employees are their number one asset. But yeah, I still think how little relatively those other things we do to really equip human beings to be more resilient and to work in those kinds of VUCA conditions. Because just as I sort of handover and invite, you know, more conversation with you guys, I think as a species, we're not well evolved for this permacrisis that we find ourselves in, you know, looking back at its 2016, really, you know, we've had big things happening in the world. So I just wonder if building on the work organizations did last year around technology, and supply chain resilience, there's more work we can do in 24, around supporting individual employees. I don't know what you guys think.


Emma Smillie  03:12

We're not designed to always be on our way as a species. And I know, Andy, you've spoken that before. Did you have any further thoughts?


Andy Couch  03:20

Yeah, sure. I mean, our key points, you know, we talked about the VUCA world for many years now. Big Dean has summarized it really nicely, though, it's a real example. To sort of add to that people now use the phrase of the FUD, fear, uncertainty, and doubt, is now something that really talks about spreading deliberately fake news or, or negative news or information. And I think even more importantly, if you're in crisis management, you know, you're going to be in scenarios where there's fake news, there's negative information coming in, as well as all that's dealing with. So helping people to develop the mental skills so that you can control your attention. Whether you're a leader or within one of the sections, responding, helping you to control you're actually attention of what the folks around is more important now than ever.


Emma Smillie  04:10

Dave did you have any thoughts in terms of preparedness exercises, things and 2023.


Dave Rouse  04:16

Back to Dean was talking about there around some of the macro events, some of the macro trends from 23, which are carrying forward into 24. And I was talking the other day with a peer who works in emergency response in the nuclear industry. And we were talking about the number, the volume of vacancies the amount of recruitment that's going on now in the resilience world. As businesses have looked in across all industries have looked back at COVID and realize that they're underprepared for the future. And our perhaps slightly cynical take on it when we looked in more details, how many of these vacancies are contract positions? They're 6 month , they are 12 month, they're looking at quite a short term. And that tells me Look, have people really, really learning the lessons from the last few years? Are we taking resilience as seriously as we need to? And if we're bringing in hundreds of people into these types of roles is the level of experience going to be what we need it to be? Or are we going to find a dilution as we go into this? So that was one thing that kind of connected a couple of dots in what Dean was saying, and some reflections that I had separately. And, you know, as we start to see the outcomes of some of the public inquiries that are ongoing, or have recently concluded, we're going to find, I think, a lot of the outcomes are that there was insufficient attention paid to competence of the people who have been in decision making roles in managing some of the events of the past few years. And of course, many of the people in decision making roles in the last few years are not professional emergency responders. And so that's led to I guess, the the key thing for me from 23 Going into 24, is how do we help people who are not professional responders, achieve the competence that they need to for that point in time where they need to make those decisions under pressure in a crisis or emergency situation. And one of the things that I've seen that picking up on what you were talking about Andy that's worked really well is when we train our clients, and we work with them on this. One of the things that's had the highest impact is when we're talking about mental skills, we're providing people with a really effective toolkit and we use Gazing's, red to blue model. But of course, there are others. And we make it sticky through some of the data driven wearable tech examples that we use when we give people mental skills that help them in their day job in their VUCA and FUD Worlds. That's one of the most effective ways of making non emergency response folk, more capable and more prepared for the time when a crisis hits because the delta is smaller. And they've now practiced and become more adept at some of those key tools that allow them to remain composed under that incredible pressure. So I guess, joining together a couple of the things that we've already been talking about. That's where I'm sitting in January 24. Looking back, and looking ahead,


Andy Couch  07:34

yeah, it's really interesting. Dave, I mean some great points in terms of the level of competence and experience that are fulfilling these roles. And ultimately, when we talk about competence, what do we actually mean by that, and I think one of the frameworks that's helpful is, is we talk about work with many companies to develop competence around their structures, competence around their skill set, and competence around their mindset. But to Dave's point, you know, we've seen an influx potentially of a lot of new people into these roles. So how mature is the competency in their skill set, it's because we can have structures in place, but how matured skill sets,


Dave Rouse  08:14

you know, building on that, Andy time is short, we're seeing our clients have got less money to spend less time to spare on developing their preparedness. And even our clients who take this incredibly, seriously invest significant cash, it's under pressure. And we have to do more with the time and the money that we have. And I think what we've learned and seen the benefit of is when something is crisp, when it's tangible, when it sticks when it's really practical. And we can cut through some of the complexity of the theory and help people with stuff that they can use right now they can use every day, and then stays with them. That's been where we've seen the biggest bang for the buck. That's been the best return on investment.


Andy Couch  09:02

I think to Dave's point there, you know, having real impact as time is short, we could also look at the increasing role of virtual learning. We talked about technological advancements, and how important that was for COVID. And just for us to take a pause and how much of our time is spent virtual learning where we're all in teams calls or, or I'm training versus maybe the approach that we probably advocate that blended approach, where we do bits of virtual but also when we are in the room together, having a visceral experience, pressure, the team is working together. real examples would be physically sit in a press conference. You can watch the incident commanders or whoever's in that leadership structure, be interviewed by reporters. You can measure their performance, real time and then reflect and review and give feedback


Dave Rouse  09:59

And perhaps slightly controversially, or maybe not, depending on your position, the virtual model of training, I find is becoming less and less effective. Certainly from a personal perspective, the more online training I'm asked to do, the more resistant I become to it the mess digs in, the more multitasking I'm doing at the same time and, you know, for certain things, okay? You can live with that. But when it's something as important as preparing for a emergency situation, I think it can be a mistake to over rely on over overestimate what could be done through a screen versus in real life when it's visceral. When the training when the exercise when the feedback creates the mental scars that stick with you, and really give you the muscle memory and something that will serve you well on the day that you need it. I think that's where in 2023, where there's a, you know, I've seen a lot more stuff going online looking forward, I think, starting to resist that. And focus on what those face to face interactions can deliver for you, which you just can't achieve through a screen.  But what I've seen that worked really well, in 23, we worked with one of our clients who had a need to train their logistics team of a global organization, they've got international resources that can cascade into any of the countries where they may have a problem. And a number of those resources are in the logistics team. And that logistics team had a whole range of experiences, but was largely fairly new to their roles hadn't had the opportunities to work together. And they asked us to work with them to develop the team coming together, develop their understanding of logistics and make sure they're ready for their worst case scenario. And what worked really effectively in that engagement was, in particular weaving in the mindset tool. So whilst we had a theory session on what it would take to mobilize equipment from country A to Country B, and the sorts of factors that logistics and Immigration and Customs you might need to encounter, actually, how do you work as a team? How do you get the best out of the team? What are the leadership behaviors that you need? How do you know that that's working? How do you use your senses, as well as the logic? And what are the mental tools that allow you to work in a different country, a different culture or a different timezone with people you've never met, when time is short, and the pressures on. And so those are really practical things, but they were woven into a different subject. This wasn't saying, You need to spend two days on mental skills as valuable is that is this is saying this is something we can just plug in. And there are lots of those things that we can just plug in to other engagements. And I think that's the trick that we're working with our clients for 24 to get maximum value is, how do we make things short, punchy, sticky, but they plug in, and we can do lots of things at once.


Andy Couch  13:07

And another thing that we ran in the background there, just building on one of the tools you mentioned, we also had a group of the logistic team wearing some wearables called Firstbeat technology, which in the background measures their stress and recovery over that week, they also took into account the fact that these people had flown in from overseas, so there's already a bit of sleep debt there potentially it might show the effect of long days that they had. And you know how we socialize in the evening as well. And maybe even the effect of alcohol and or sleep deprivation. And so over the week, we're able to build a really good picture of their physiological response to the demands of, in this case, a training course. And which helps them to look at their habits, both as individuals, but as a group. How did you build in some of these habits for resilience, we're talking things like sleep, we help people power down and rest and recover. And all those highlights were able to be drawn out for that week.


Dave Rouse  14:07

And that was the overriding feedback that we got, because these things are relevant in their day to day well, people are in high pressure jobs. And it's now giving them the framework to think and talk about the effects of sleep, and recharging your body's batteries, and exercise and nutrition. And all of these things. These are not things that you're normally thinking about when you sign up for a crisis management class, but they're so important. And they're the things that work for you day to day as well. You look at the budget that you have, because we need to be realistic, and the time that you can afford and then you start to get a bit creative. I think it would be a mistake the default to the standard providers and the standard classes that don't have the innovation that haven't changed, because I think that will prepare you at best for yesterday's crisis, it doesn't prepare you for tomorrow's. And it doesn't allow you to maximize, you know, those limited resources you have to invest in. So if you're taking resilience and building capability and building competence, seriously, and any organization should be then thinking about, how do I be creative? How do I achieve lots of things in one engagement? How do I push OSRL, or whoever your training providers are, to give me more impact that sticks from those engagements that we do invest in this year. And I think the second part of that is, it has to be practical look for the things that create the scars in the muscle memory, and a very tangible, practical, actionable things that people can do, in the past lots of training, would spend a day or two days on the theory and then maybe a day on an exercise, well, that's fine if you have three days, and it might work for some people. But the more time that we spent in kinesthetic learning, where we're actually doing and practicing and getting feedback, and creating those mental scars that benefit us, that's where the maximum value is going to be. But I think the converse of that, whilst we recognize the resources and time are tight, is to think that you can get away with building resilience on a shoestring. It does require investment, it does require time. And when you start to cut the corners, and feel the pinch, then you'll find that you're not achieving as much as you should be.


Andy Couch  16:31

And another thing that we've found really helpful in terms of maximizing the learning is actually the role of real time performance coaching. Or as teams come together, you want to maximize value, for having dedicated professional performance coaches in the room with you, that help you to frontload, what you're trying to achieve, you know, be really clear on what your aims are that notion of sort of feeding forward and looking at what this could look like. And then we enter the Perfor pmhase where we practise, we experience. And then the performance coach can really help. Some of the key leaders within the team reflect and actually see just how well they did before or what their edges are. And then you look ahead, you go again, to this idea of preparation, and then performance and then review, facilitated by performance coaches is really maximizing the experience and the benefit the clients are getting.


Dave Rouse  17:25

So in an exercise that we were involved in, in 23, Andy, we saw the real benefit of performance coaching and the force multiplying effect they had it was you in fact, who was coaching, the incident command team on this major exercise with several hundred people over several days. And you could see it was visible to me as an evaluator the effect that had on performance of the individuals of the collective clearly as the incident command team that sets the tone, and the strategic direction of those quiet conversations that were not obvious unless you knew where to look. But you can see the difference it made, to the individuals, but the feedback that we got from that about how powerful it was, how much more we want to do with that. And this is the effect of one person in a particularly pivotal role as a coach that can have over the direction and and quality of the whole response. So I think that's one of those nuggets, where there's a force multiplying effect where there's a real benefit, a disproportionate impact, if you will, of that role. So I would encourage for exercises and training engagements. Looking ahead this year. That's one of the things companies can think about, how can I use a performance coach in real time during an exercise to accelerate the learning get the performance levels up through those really subtle but incredibly powerful conversations. And I think this is the opportunity in 24 to connect in some of the immersive technologies that are now much more freely available to make the virtual learning or online learning environment more powerful, so that we can maximize that face to face time. But the pre learning has had the impact that it can have in the classroom. And I think that's where we'll be doing some innovation. And we're already talking with one of our clients preparing for a major exercise, about how to do that how to make sure that before and during the exercise, we're maximizing the time but with raising the situational awareness, we've got that real visceral experience happening. So there's lots of good work to do that. The other thing if I can build on your point there, Andy and around the impact of performance coaching was a gap that I'm still seeing in the use of effective debriefing and after action reviews, and how still, they can be seen as a little bit of an afterthought, people are tired, they've been through it, they want to go home. And now we're tacking on this debrief and the after action review, and it still feels like we're missing a trick here. In that all of the learnings, 90% of them evaporate, because we're not capturing them in a systematic way, or we're being still, you know, organic and to do it is better than to not do it at all. But I think we can be better. And the lazy approach of what are three things that went well, and three things that could have gone better, is exactly that is a little bit lazy, it's a little bit contrived. And it doesn't really get down to the depths of what have two or three things, if we really focus on will make us significantly better.


Andy Couch  20:42

Yeah, great point. And, you know, as we run those after action reviews, that the structure of that review, and that skillfulness with which that review is conducted, is as important as anything we do during the exercise as well. So really important that that is the focus and it's planned for, and it's delivered to a really high quality level, because ultimately, that will take and generate a lot of the learning from the immersive experience, and will equip you with a roadmap of where you go next. So really important. And I also think you made a really key point around the learnings evaporating. So if we wait to the end to conduct an after action review, we're just missing multiple opportunities throughout the live event, to catch people being good, so to speak, you know, when someone's done something, well, how do you gently feed that back? When things aren't working? How do we capture that information? And as timely as possible? How do you feed that back into the system, and that can be done in many ways. The advantage of feeding that insight, real time back into the system is you can then feed forward. And if there's a performance coach, who noticed the clarity isn't there and guarantee the alignment between the different sections work very hard to point that out and feed it back in real time, rather than wait to the end of the exercise is a much better approach.


Emma Smillie  22:08

And we've talked quite a lot about, quote, incident commanders in terms of crisis leadership, what are the trends for this year? What are the things that crisis leaders need to be thinking about? Dean, maybe there's just one for you, given your podcast on leadership,


Dave Rouse  22:22

has anything really changed? Is there anything different in 23 to 24, about what crisis leaders should be thinking about?


Dean Wasche  22:29

Yeah, that's an interesting question. So I think many of the themes that were prevalent in 2023 are still, as I touched upon, in my original podcast, the fact we are still in this crisis, this continued period of uncertainty, I think the pressure on crisis leaders is still very much there. So I guess it's this need to keep working on their inner game and how we think about our place in the world. And how we make sense of the world around us as leaders, is absolutely fundamental to how we ultimately project ourselves in the world. So I think there is still the need to work on their own development and their own inner game so that should they be required to step up and lead in a crisis, you know, that your it moment, they are more able to do that.


Andy Couch  23:20

So again, we come back to this model of how do we help people, crisis leaders to prepare? But what does that actually look like? So in terms of preparation, as a leader, how do you get yourself ready in terms of what skills you need and the mentality that you need in order to be calm, project clarity, when you get into the performance phase as a leader, what does good look like? And then ultimately, the third part that we help crisis leaders is reviewing their own performance. And that's how we learn from pressure. That's how we get better for next time. One of things I wanted to say about crisis leaders is a lot is spoken about the ability to have empathy as a leader. And I think when you're in a crisis, one of your greatest strengths as crisis leader is to be able to understand where your people are, understand the impact of maybe the incident or crisis on the local community. So empathy is a key skill. It's really important that helps you as crisis leader, be transparent with the people be transparent with regulators, with the government with a local community, and that for me is all underpinned by can a leader be vulnerable. And that ability to not be Superman or Superwoman. And it's really important that crisis leaders have that vulnerability so they can connect to their team. So they create that environment in the crisis management team which is psychologically safe. Both people do bring ideas, people do challenge.


Emma Smillie  24:45

And you mentioned not being Superman or Superwoman. There is a constant pace of change as we've discussed a kind of always on feeling, I guess in 2024, do you see more organizations focusing on wellbeing and preventing burnout or do you think there's still work to be done in that area?


Andy Couch  25:02

Great question. Ultimately, I think, from our experience or my experience, the expectations of employees have shifted over the last few years particularly in the area of wellbeing and health. Now we know and we understand that you're going to be part of the incident crisis management team, that can be a demanding role. So in general, most people know that they know what they're signing up. However, this is something I think we need to take really seriously in terms of how do we plan and prepare for wellbeing and resilience of individuals, and also the collective team? So there's lots of ways we can do this. But the first thing I would say is, we've got to take it seriously. Because if we don't, the next crisis can be generated by your own culture within your own incident crisis management team. There are things that we can do, let's say process wise, within the ICS structure, you know, we have the safety officer of had we build in to that role, potentially. So it becomes something that's built into process in terms of wellbeing, how do we may take time outs how to create space within the ICS process, for example, where we are consciously helping the mitigating stress and exertion.


Emma Smillie  26:16

Dean when we spoke, we're talking about disengagement. How does that link into what Andy spoke about potential kind of future crisis coming from your own people,


Dean Wasche  26:25

I think they are closely linked, and I'm just referencing, you know, some of the research that's come from McKinsey and others about levels of disengagement in the workforce at large or the global workforce, particularly in some of the developed parts of the world. You know, there's an alarming level of sort of disengagement and quiet quitting, I think was a popular term last year. And I think those people are more susceptible to burnout, you know, so I guess it's really looking at the workforce, because organizations who want to, there is a massive competition for talent isn't a globally varies sector to sector. But as Andy said, in his last point about expectations are shifting. And so I think there's a so what, therefore, organizations if you want to attract and retain top talent, people are increasingly looking for what well being offerings there, but also actually, in terms of supporting people in performing at their best, both in a business as usual contact, but certainly an incident of crisis. How do they come in, in a state where they're ready to perform, and you know, I would say that they're already disengaged, they're more susceptible to burnout, because they're less connected to the organization to their colleagues, which then links back to an earlier point Dave made about the limitations of virtual training. If we do too much of it, I just, we don't build the same level of connectedness, I think, with our colleagues, co workers that we need. So I think that they are linked Emma to come back to your question. I think it's interesting, where it goes back, it's certainly the more forward thinking companies are increasingly looking at wellbeing, and how do they really promote good wellbeing and support their employees being their best selves at work, so that should incident or crisis emerge they are truly resilient from a human perspective, not just a systems perspective, to hopefully, weather that incident or crisis.


Dave Rouse  28:18

We are about to work with a couple of different clients on similar projects, which, in my view, fit the bill of being super high impact, super high value without being super expensive. And I thought maybe it's worth us talking about those projects a little bit. See if that plants, any seeds for people who are looking to do something a bit more creative, especially once they feel they've reached the maturity and their systems and structures and practice and things are getting stale. How do they add some oomph to it and really hit the next level of performance. So maybe Dean, if you go first and talk about the progressive work that you're about to go deliver to a client in the US.


Dean Wasche  29:09

Yeah, thanks, Dave. So it's an exciting area, isn't it because as you say, these are typically very large national bottled water multinational companies that have been doing this stuff for a long time such they've got structure, particularly, really well established, and they've got whether it is IMS or variation of it. They've got role cards, people really well trained and rehearsed in those respective roles. Often skill set is also equally well established. So I think increasingly, when it comes to enhancing performance, these companies are looking at that mindset component again, that you spoke of. So what I'm gearing up to do with a client very soon, is really spend a day really impactful day looking specifically at the role the mindset plays, in enhancing an emergency response. So we're going to spend the morning doing lots of really impactful activities around what simple tools and techniques can we as individuals, employ, to ultimately be more skillful under pressure. We're then going to build that up to what do operational leaders need under pressure? So again, coming back to some of the things that Andy mentioned, how do leaders bring clarity, the decision making, but they can only do that, of course, if they're not emotionally hijacked themselves? So how do they access that bit of their brain, the executive functions that allow us as human beings to make those good, well considered decisions. And then ultimately spending some time looking at the strategic needs should be, what the strategic leaders need. And I touched a bit on this in my earlier Podcast, episode four around strategic leaders are really working in complexity, and how do they work with the varying stakeholders to manage the polarities that ultimately get complexity. So the idea of over the days to give individuals, middle leaders and senior leaders, simple tools and techniques, which they can deploy either pre performance during performance or post performance, to maximize their performance when it matters.


Dave Rouse  31:10

So the other thing that we've got in the pipeline, which I think is really quite interesting is that most of our clients engage us for crisis management, incident management support. But we've got another major client who's looked at that, and realized the value it can have in other situations, which are also high pressure, and high consequence and fit many of the criteria of a crisis. And that's a client that's going through the application process to develop wind famrs. So super high pressure, super high consequence situations that they will be in when the proposed bands come under significant scrutiny. And the teams that are involved will meet to explain and justify and potentially defend decisions in potentially legal situations. And so they've asked us to come and work with those teams and help with the mental skills toolkit. Because the characteristics are the same, doesn't need to be a emergency response type prices to get the value out of the performing under pressure composure tools that we deliver. So I just thought that's another really interesting project and the value of some of the stuff outside of the world of crisis response. Emma, you're going to be leading this particular engagement? What are you most excited about?


Emma Smillie  32:39

Just seeing how the framework can be used outside that crisis management context? There are always as we've mentioned, pressure moments, and are you very far from the emergency response people that we would normally be training there, how they will take those tools and be able to apply them to what they're doing? I think that really excites me, and just taking our skill set that we've used in the oil industry just that little bit wider.


Dave Rouse  33:04

So I think we've talked a lot about what mature organizations with established structures established processes can do to get even better but I've worked with a number of clients in the past year and hope to continue to do so next year, they were at a much earlier stage of the development of a crisis capability. And what continues to be at play something we see a lot is the working up through the stages of the complexity ladder. So let me explain what the complexity ladder is. All the complexity curve is a better description. So when an organization starts out, but it has nothing, you're at the bottom of the curve. Unless you start to put things in place, you put in place a plan first, and then you do some training, and you have a team. But you're still not comfortable that the team then has an urge for checklists. It needs a flowchart. It needs a playbook, it needs all the scenarios to be defined, and put in the appendix. And then you need technology because then you're not working off of whiteboards, you feel like you're more comfortable. So you need all these aids. So what you've done is you've increased the complexity without really becoming any more competent. And then as a team continues to mature, they start to develop the confidence. They've used this plan. They've worked through the processes. They've worked as a team a few times with exercises. So they're developing their confidence. And now they've got just a whole load of stuff in their system, that they've still got the high complexity and the complexity starts to get in the way, because they're finding that they've got a playbook that doesn't work for the incident that happened. So there's the you're torn between do we use the playbook? Do we go off piste and that can create challenges. So the more that the team practices, the more experienced they become, the more they can recognize that extensive over complicated plans, processes structures have their downsides as well as their benefits. And that's the moment that it clicks for them. Where they get, the less is more mindset they can start then to be more reductive. They can start to strip back the plans, make them more simple, make them less complicated, have fewer reporting lines, fewer structures, fewer things that get in the way. And that's where we see the really high performing teams get to is that they recognize that the competence of the team is disproportionately more important than the volume of plans and complexity of the structures.


Dean Wasche  35:43

So it's how do you keep it really simple, keep it actionable. And train it in a way where it becomes in a suit when they do need it, it takes no additional bandwidth in the moment to call upon it, they can just do it.


Dave Rouse  35:57

The other thing I've seen a couple of times, recently, and is one of my resolutions to make sure that we don't fall into the same trap is playing too easy during an exercise or a drill. And what I mean is, we've had really well developed simulations with, you know, really well qualified and experienced people in the simulation cell providing injects that drive an exercise, and we feel like we stretch people. But the feedback at the end once in a couple of the since been, you could have done more, you could have pushed us harder in media, you could have made the human aspects of this more challenging for us, you didn't need to safeguard our feelings, you could have really pushed it. And in those couple of occasions that I've seen and been part of this year, whilst we thought we were stretching, we weren't pushing far enough. And then obviously, what that means is we didn't get as many learnings out, we didn't create the scars that we probably could have done. And so the resolution for 24 is to really stretch people out when we're designing and delivering exercises, is to push it as hard as we can, and then push it a little bit further. Because what we've seen in the last few months is that people do want that they're ready, they want to be pushed. So what was the best thing that you saw, or did in relation to by performing crisis management.


Andy Couch  37:29

In the last year, the best thing I was involved with him witness last year was monitoring, very large crisis management group, that all flown in from different parts of the world. And being able to at the end of the week long training and exercise, play back to them their physiological data about the impact of those flights, the pressure of the week sleep challenges and deprivation, and actually play back to them in numbers, factually, here's what, as a group you went through, and here's how your body responded. And why that was so good is the insights it gave people were incredibly useful for what they can do about it.


Dave Rouse  38:14

Emma so what else have you seen in the last year, what was the best thing that you saw?


Emma Smillie  38:18

One of the things I was thinking about was a group of people that we trained as red to blue coaches, and actually taking some individuals that had no experience of the framework at all, through that journey to be able to train on red to blue. And it was a similar thing, you know, they started kind of knowing a little bit about it, not really, fully getting it to light bulb moments through that time, and relating to it and looking and seeing how they apply it in their actual lives. That was impactful. How about you Dave.


Dave Rouse  38:46

So I think one of the best things that I saw in 2023 was brought in a new trainer that's working with our surrounding now. He delivered for us a workshop half a day on critical decision making in high pressure situations. And this was to a group of highly experienced professional respondents. And I saw the value of actually breaking down the mental processes and the impact of biases on how critical decisions are recognized and made by this group. And subsequently have seen a number of them put their practices and tools into practice during responses during day to day business. And the feedback from those few hours has been that it was super high impact, super useful. So for me, that was probably the best, most impactful thing I saw were in 2023 was how do you take that skill of decision making and really buy some deliberate focus on it, improve it for people that they can perform better?


Dean Wasche  40:00

I think it's the power of performance coaching as simply trained, but well positioned professional, who's there, to give support, to give advice to be that sounding board to be that critical friend, that mirror in the moment, every time to be back throughout so that, again, in the spirit of getting the most all of our preparedness exercises, rather than wait till the end, to give lots of feedback, which is often too much people don't want to hear because they're only thinking about their trip home. It's how do you do that throughout the exercise, it becomes iterative people are learning as they go, get it better, better.


Dave Rouse  40:38

 It's interesting thinking about how we've all focused on people, as our best thing that we've seen them, the most impactful work that we've done is all around, building up the competency and the performance of people. And we've talked very little about structures and plans and flowcharts and processes. And I think that just goes to underlie our position, generally, that less is more with plans. And actually, the importance of a competent team and highly performing individuals is what will get any organization through uncertain times and crisis situation. So if I was to give one piece of advice to anyone asking on what the focus for this year should be. For me, it's about making sure whatever you do is practical and high impact. And to make that more tangible for you. My strongest recommendation is hold an exercise, evaluate what you have, and review. But do it all, with a view to stretching and being really honest about what you find and what you're going to do about it. So that's my one piece of advice, how to exercise, you have a really honest review of what it shows you.


Andy Couch  41:59

Yeah, I guess my one piece of advice would be to broaden out what is considered to be competence by an incident and crisis management team. Because it's easy to get stuck on the processes we need to follow. Whilst that structure is critical. I would encourage everyone to broaden out and look at competence in terms of the structures and processes, skills of the people, both technical and behavioral. And then the mindset and the wellbeing side is critical as well. So all three go together. Structure skill set mindset.


Dean Wasche  42:38

I think mine would be we will need to get worked on ourselves, shall we are never done, particularly those in leadership roles. I think it's really important that we keep looking at how do we make sense of the world? How do we show up in the best way possible to get the best out of the people we have the privilege to lead to work with and use the structures around you to do that in House leadership, development external, use the resources around you. And you know, don't fall into that complacency trap where you ever think you're done. You're finished learning or its for everyone else bar you I think it's really important that leaders keep role modeling humility, self awareness, keep developing themselves.


Emma Smillie  43:20

And I think now's the time to check your crisis comms plans and make sure that you've fully thought through technology and the channels etc because everything changes so rapidly in communications and make sure that you know what the sort of 1,2, 3 risks for your individual company are, and that your crisis comms are aligned with that. Thank you for listening to the Response Force Multiplier from OSRL. Please like and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And stay tuned for more episodes as we continue to explore key issues in emergency response and crisis management. For more information, head to See you soon.