O'Connor ~ Lubricating civic reconstruction NZPsS 2011


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O'Connor ~ Lubricating civic reconstruction NZPsS 2011

  1. 1. Lubricating civic reconstruction:Reducing losses due to inter-organisational friction Frank OConnor NZPsS President Consultant, Moa Resources +64 21 386-911 franko@moa.net.nz New Zealand Psychological Society - Annual Conference 2011
  2. 2. The scale of the disaster in Canterbury means thatthe recovery will require integrated and timelydecision making across a range of organisations• The leadership and coordination of the multi-year recovery effort in Canterbury will involve varied groups, with differing interests• Large amounts of work are being done, planned, communicated and aligned
  3. 3. How will we keep the social agenda in sync with the structural agenda?There is no point in buildings, roads and sewersthat struggle to find users• At no stage in its history, has the working population of Christchurch needed to collaborate so much – In the initial rescue phase, organisations assisted each other much as neighbours reached over fences: without careful consideration of finances and future – As the recovery phase took over, these organisations took stock of their situations, resources and mandatesWhat comes next?
  4. 4. He tangata he tangata he tangata
  5. 5. Time moves onDrawing back naturally from the generous help ofthese first phases….• Some organisations found they had insufficient resource to maintain early recovery efforts and had to reconfigure• Others had delays in the supply of essential materials or knowledgeAdd the overlay of strain that results from theongoing stress of disruptions and delays toordinary ways of getting things done acrossorganisations
  6. 6. What are we seeing?Evidence is emerging of inter-organisational strainfollowing the phases Gordon outlines forindividuals• But the losses of performance are much greater in impact when the linkages break down between, for example, an asset owner and their lead contractor or a core health facility and its contracted service providers• What will keep institutions and organisations joined up, willing and able to act together when circumstances are ready?
  7. 7. What we need to recoverThere are social needs that underpin economicrecovery and they need attention too• For people to get stuck into purposeful rebuilding activity of whatever kind is their lot, and stick with it until it is done well enough, they need to: – acknowledge a gap between what they had and what they now have – be able to address that gap – have confidence that the gap will stay addressed• This appears to be the case for all individuals and applies with slight variation to groups, whether families, neighbourhoods or more formal organizations
  8. 8. It is not necessary to change.Survival is not mandatory. – W. Edwards Deming
  9. 9. A lot of stuff is bustedStructural assets, such as houses, factories, pipes,roads and wires, are both familiar and direct• When I notice my window is broken, I want it fixed to keep wind and rain out• I find someone to do the work and, if needed, a way to pay them• I choose someone who will do a good job so re-repair is not needed• Asset utility is reinstated to a sufficient standard – Most people can do some of thisMany organizations did and are doing theirequivalent too: getting property, equipment, peopleand funds organized to do their work again
  10. 10. Munted: Made useless
  11. 11. Information is broken tooInformational assets• who lives where• where water, food or utility services are available• which schools have able-to-use sports fields• where parking spaces are commonly availableEach of these is familiar to those who use them a lot, and theinformation is stored in a variety of ways• Rebuilding is less direct than for physical assets. – users may be frustrated that they no longer ‘know’ what they did – reinstating useful knowledge is limited by ability to gather it – replication channels pass on others’ learnings – eg, Facebook• Ongoing changes, due to additional damage as well as repairs, reduce confidence in being able to use informationUncertainty kills information value
  12. 12. It is not the strongest of thespecies that survive, nor themost intelligent, but the onemost responsive to change – Author unknown, commonly misattributed to Charles Darwin
  13. 13. New kinds of information are neededMany people struggle a bit with this sort of loss ofusable information, but they persist and graduallythe gap is filled or the importance of the gap is lostin all the other things that need doing• Organisations are responding to address the explicit data losses first• Tacit know-how carried in peoples heads is less available due to the strain of operating while fixing the structures that aren’t as they wereInformation flows among organizations areconstrained by damaged infrastructure and bydistracted human carriers• Workplace conversations spend less time talking about ‘the work’ than used to be the case• People guess differently about what might happen
  14. 14. Less tangible losses are felt tooRelationships are assets used for exchanges ofvalue to achieve social and economic objectives• To share responsibilities – eg for care of other people, especially those less able• To produce goods and services• To have fun and create stuffRelationships are familiar to those directly involvedand goodwill is held in different ways but the needfor rebuilding is less obvious• Parties to a relationship may be aware that they no longer receive or give what they did, and may wish to fix this• Absences, distractions and reduced availability (face to face, by phone or other form) mean the relationships are no longer as able to exchange as they were
  15. 15. Friction goes up and fun goes downWith ability to reinstate relationships limited,confidence at being able to rebuild for the futuresuffers• Relationships in families and in neighbourhoods show strain in various way: – frazzled interactions – low tolerance of differences – inflexibilityOrganisations feel the stress too, and relationshipswithin and among organisations show similardisruption• Negotiations are more heated• Agreement is more fragile• Trust is harder to win – Anxiety about keeping of promises on delivery of goods and services receives frequent comment
  16. 16. Attitudes can be social and economic assetsSome enduring attitudes are values supportive ofproducing desired economic and social outcomes• Fairness• Impartiality• Responsibility• Trustworthiness• And what about: – Desire to get things done? – Insistence on sufficient quality? – Consideration for the needs of others?• Attitudes are not as reliably described as are other classes of asset But their loss has impacts on recovery
  17. 17. Rebuilding attitudes is often indirectPeople may be frustrated that they no longer ‘feel’what they did but have no sense of ability to changethe way they ‘feel’ in their immediate setting or inthe likely future• Many people have found that effort to take control of the mess their house or factory is undone by – a further aftershock – a decision by an authority – a departure of a child-care provider – damage to a vehicle exacerbated by road conditions – inability to get materials at a price that allows them to stay in business• Attempts to rebuild reflect this low ability, and frequently end in early frustration
  18. 18. "I think were alla bit moreworried aboutthepsychologicalimpact on thepeople ofChristchurchthan theGovernmentsBudget. Finance Minister Bill English The Press 14 June 2011
  19. 19. Psychology is helpingEspecially with the several thousand who arementally woundedBut we can help more as a profession by focussingon the few thousand others who are leaders – Businesses – Services – Communities – Whanau – Churches – Social groups – Sporting codesAll are necessary to rebuild society
  20. 20. To secure the wellbeing of our people, continuing leadership is neededEffective leaders enable their people to get on withtheir essential stuff• Leaders are our best antidote to uncertainty – They help us focus on what has to be done – When we get stuff done, we all feel we’ve achieved something – We’re confident about doing something moreEven if another shake means we have to start overLeaders struggle just as the rest of us do, and must – cope with more changes to the schedule – adapt to the latest departures from the city – find another person to do the work that is still needed
  21. 21. We cannot afford to loseleadership because ourpeople will lose heartWe need action to supportexisting highly effectiveleaders in the greaterChristchurch communityAnd for as long as it takes
  22. 22. Highest leverage on capability and persistenceAim: To identify and enhance the capability ofvarious kinds of leaders, so that they are more ableto keep goingThe confidence areas worth most attention in theseleaders?• Immediate readiness to keep trying, and accepting other things are not ripe for immediate attention• Short-term ability to get things done, and not taking on things beyond present resources or permission• Long term willingness to keep trying for the foreseeable future within capacity and consent limits. In shaky collaboration of people in research at the University of Canterbury, in practice in Christchurch and at the Joint Centre for Disaster Research
  23. 23. As a profession….… we are able to helpreceptive leaders tolead in the wide rangeof changing andchallenging situationsaheadAs the new physicalstructures come,these leaders will behelping thecommercial and socialstructures reframe,strengthen and growHow? Picture: Waikato Times
  24. 24. Address the stress: A process suggestionGather a group for a couple of hours to discuss theways in which they address the stress felt by thoseunder their leadership• By focusing on what they have done that works, they reinforce their own effective coping strategies and encourage others to try them• There is little need for theory or self-disclosure, beyond describing the situation sufficiently for others to see why the leadership choice made was suitable and likely to be effective• While an example of a detailed stress management process follows, there are many others• More important is facilitation that helps participants discriminateWhat Works versus What Mightn’t
  25. 25. Discuss ways that work• To notice ordinary leaders’ responses/reactions to abnormal events including change, loss, grief and trauma• To listen effectively and respond to those who look to you for leadership when they are stressed or distressed• To support someone who is – coping well at present and shows no present vulnerability – coping variably at present and shows some vulnerability – not coping at present and shows high vulnerability – likely to benefit from specialist help
  26. 26. Past, present and futureWhich is causing theconfusion and delay?Look at differing needs• In the past, affecting immediate readiness to keep trying, and Willing accepting that other things are Ready not ripe for immediate attention Able• Today, affecting short-term ability to get things done, and not taking on things beyond present resources or permission• In future, affecting long term willingness to keep trying for the foreseeable future within capacity and consent limits
  27. 27. There is much we can do to improve resilienceEspecially if we focus on how people are copingand help them carefully with the particularchallenges they face, not with the general challengethe city facesWe dont want to teach a set of strategies that haveto be unlearned if matters get worse for folk
  28. 28. Example agenda: Information session • A very busy hour Who am I concerned about? Extra time in skill building sessions • Colleagues?Background to the strain • Friends?Christchurch people face • Family? – Physical changes – traffic, exercise, access – Informational changes – where things What am I concerned about? are now • Events in the past – Social changes – who’s about – family, friends • Things happening today – Attitudinal changes – risks and worries • Things that might (or might not)Stress responses happen • What everybody does… How do I do the triage thing … a colleague … a friend or family member… myself • What some people do… • What makes things worse … Discussion on what we can do How do I react? How do my friends see me? whenWhat makes it harder to get work • Getting help (from …)done • Uncertainty in programmes • Helping others cope better • Uncertainty in colleagues / clients • Helping myself cope better • Uncertainty in self / close ‘family’ What can I do about my uncertainties