Sunday, April 14, 2013

When Zombies Drive


I never believed in zombies. Not until recently. The idea of the living dead, stumbling around never seemed believable – or even very scary. After all, of all the monsters and strange creatures of the night these lurching, half-dead creatures seem the least of the worries. Vampires are practically indestructible and have super powers beyond humans – speed, strength and, per some stories, incredible persuasiveness. Witches have magic spells, wands and flying broomsticks; werewolves are incredibly fast with deadly bites; ghosts can travel through walls and demons bring hell to earth. Zombies, however, just stagger along, shuffling pathetically after would-be victims.

What is scary is that I’ve noticed so many real-life zombies all around. These living dead are everywhere. Most annoying is when they drive. The driving-dead choke up the roads and create so much impatience that the living are in danger of losing their minds out of frustration.

Beware when zombies drive - nothing is safe!
First, let me say that I am passionate about driving. One of my favorite roles as a police officer was being a driving instructor. Pushing a car to its limits, slicing through slaloms and reversing down long curvy paths of cones was a true pleasure. Even on the roads, it is a passion to get from point A to B with as little waste of effort as possible.

Sadly, the roads are full of these brain-dead zombie drivers. They are easy to spot. Zombies are the drivers sitting at intersections long after the light turned to green. Zombies cannot negotiate simple curves without senseless weaving or braking through the turn and never follow the right line or hit the apex of the turn. Some drive in a straight line while tapping their brake pedal constantly (mechanics must love those customers). Worse, are the zombies that stop at the end of an acceleration lane, causing everyone behind to come to a screeching halt and making it impossible to merge onto the highway – the whole purpose of an acceleration lane!

Of course, the very worse zombie drivers are those that spin along in the left lanes, 20 mph below the speed limit, while their limited motor skills seem to make it completely impossible to pull over to a slower lane to let living drivers pass.

If the driving doesn’t give it away, the drivers themselves may. They are often clutching the steering wheel with two hands in a death grip (appropriate for a zombie), bent forward, peering intently with a dead zombie gaze at the blank road ahead. They are often seen in small ugly sedans with tiny engines and bumper stickers espousing hope for politicians who will save them from their own insecurities. There are even those normally living drivers who become zombies when they attach Bluetooth devices to their heads, sucking their brains dry. Or worse, those texting away their thinking abilities – the one thing that separates the living from zombies – and draining away their ability to drive.

So beware! Zombies do exist and are all around. Even on the road in the car in front of you.

 

Eric Smith, CPP is the leading authority on organizational self-defense. He has extensive experience in law enforcement as well as security management. Eric is available for staff education and security awareness training as well as business coaching to help organizations provide safe workplaces. To learn more email eric@businesskarate.com.

 

 

If you would like to reprint this post, please contact Eric at eric@businesskarate.com. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

5 Lessons from the Original Disaster Prepper – Noah!



                Sometimes, it seems as if everyone is just waiting for the world to implode and civilization as we know it to come crashing to a halt. From the books that are popular, TV shows about apocalyptic end times with zombies abound and even the World Economic Forum predicting chaos as the number one risk facing the globe. There is even a TV series, Disaster Prepper, dedicated to those getting ready for the end to come.

                As it turns out, preparing for disaster is not as new as you might think. Throughout history, wise people have recognized some of the potential threats around them and taken steps to prepare, or better yet, avoid the danger. In the 50’s and 60’s, school children practiced hiding under desks during air raids for attacks that never came (thankfully). Homeowners even built backyard bomb shelters to keep safe.

                It doesn’t start there though. In the Old Testament, Joseph helped Egypt prepare for seven years of famine during the preceding bountiful years to ward off famine and starvation.

                But before bomb and fallout shelters, before Joseph, there was the ultimate disaster prepper – Noah! Noah, as you recall, not only had to prepare for disaster in regards to saving his family; he had to prepare to save the entire planet’s animal species, bringing enough food to last everyone and everything through the entire catastrophe.

                Even today, there are lessons that we can learn from Noah. Lessons that apply on both a personal level for those getting ready for tomorrow’s calamities and also for businesses developing emergency continuity plans.

  1. Start before there are clouds in the sky.
Noah did not wait for the first rain drops to start building the Ark. No one knows exactly how long it took to build the Ark, but there is no doubt that it was a great effort and took a long time to complete. Remember, there was no lumber store, no power tools and must have been a second job – after all he still needed to work, farm or ranch to maintain living during the construction. And once the Ark was built, he needed to supply it. If you are developing a business continuity plan, remember to do your thinking, planning and preparing ahead of time. And don’t forget to test the plan – Noah probably tested out his pine tar seals for water leakage before finishing the boat. A leak in your plan in the middle of a disaster would be catastrophic.

  1. Assess your needs and build your plans around them.
Noah had an advantage here. He was given his plans in detail by God and knew exactly what kind of disaster he was preparing for. For the rest of us, we need to do a hazard vulnerability assessment or HVA and develop broad plans for any of the potential emergencies that we might encounter. For the home disaster prepper, how much food will you need? Enough for four people, for example, for six months? How about special medicine needs – does a family member have diabetes and need insulin? Businesses also need to think about special concerns and be sure to address those in a continuity plan.
Wikimedia Commons - Brocken Inaglory

  1. Be leery of the masses at the start of the disaster.
If a disaster starts and you have the means to survive it, others will want it and may try to take it – by force. Sadly, keeping your plans to yourself may be one of the best security measures you could take. In Noah’s case, there is no mention of what surrounding people thought of his in-land boat-building. Certainly, they must have thought he was nuts and even business leaders trying to prepare their organizations for emergencies will come across the same mentality. But when the rain started, you can bet there was a different attitude and some must have thought of forcing their way onto Noah’s boat.

  1. Be patient and keep your sanity.
If you’ve ever driven past a feedlot, you probably remember the smell – not a pleasant memory. Imagine being confined on a boat full of animals. Not to mention the tight quarters with your extended family and the stress of rocking about on the waves, not knowing what was going on outside or what the future would hold. Do not overlook the necessity to have some form of entertainment or bring some pleasure into the disaster planning mode. Keep some books or board games on hand to take your mind off the zombie attack outside. For businesses, keep in mind the mental health of employees during a disaster, even small ones. A business that cannot close for a blizzard, such as hospital, still has to think of employee well-being. What if employees are worried about family or pets etc.? Do not overlook the human factor in continuity planning.

  1. Include a plan for returning to normal after the event.
Noah had doves with him on the Ark. To gauge when it was safe to leave the Ark, he sent out a dove, which returned. Later, he sent it out again and it came back with a branch, indicating that things were drying up and improving outside. Finally, it never came back and he knew then that it must be safe to leave. Be sure to plan for the return to normal operations. For organizations, is there a plan to operate from another location while the main site is repaired or restored? For home disaster planners, what is the exit strategy to begin rebuilding a normal life afterwards?

Follow Noah’s example to prepare yourself, your home or your business for any kind of emergency, whether it is global devastation, attack of the living dead or something more mundane and closer to home.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Teams Versus Individuals - Who Wins?


For racing fans, the Formula 1 Malaysia Grand Prix was an interesting race. There was the strange – a top contender bypassing a pit stop for necessary repairs only to crash as a result a moment later. Another driver pulled into the wrong pit – his old team – and had to make a quick change to the right pit team.

 Most strange of all were the winners on the podium after the race. Two of the three were very unhappy and the winner later had to apologize for winning.

 The top finishers were all unhappy due to teamwork and individual performance.

Webber and Vettel in a post-race interview
 Sebastian Vettel, the driver who ultimately won, passed his teammate, Mark Webber, after both were told to maintain their positions as the race leaders – Webber in first place, followed by Vettel. The idea was to preserve wear and tear on the cars and engines as well as maintain fuel to the end of the race to meet Formula 1 regulations. Despite the team order, Vettel passed Webber anyway, taking Webber by surprise and went on to win the race.

     Meanwhile, a similar skirmish was underway as two more teammates battled for 3rd place. Nico Rosberg was in fourth, but with better tires on his car wanted to pass his teammate, Lewis Hamilton. The team boss told him to back off, which he did and finished the race in fourth, missing the chance to be on the podium.

Hamilton and Rosberg pose for a promo shot
     At the podium, Webber was clearly angry and the maneuver was a hot topic and clearly put a pall over the race.

      Hamilton, who finished in third, stated that his teammate should have been there instead. Vettel acted as if he didn’t understand why his actions had created such uproar. Racing news followed the feuding after the race and Vettel and Webber’s team had to make a special announcement that the team leaders were in fact, in charge of the drivers and would control their team. Vettel had to issue an apology.

     Business leaders have to deal with the same kind of challenges as well and should try to understand the personal motivators for each team member. Leaders need to also understand how to manage those situations very carefully.

      In organizations, individuals may get bonuses or raises based, rightfully, on their own performance. The risk is that people could take credit or not want to share credit where they should. There is always someone who creates artificial problems to fix; or attracts attention without really doing anything – and, unfortunately, there is usually someone who believes them.

      To be an effective leader, there are a few key points to keep in mind to manage and coordinate team and individual success.

1.      Align individual goals with team goals. Clearly set expectations for individuals in a way that match your goals as a leader and help move the organization closer to strategic goals.

2.     Allow individuals to use their own strengths. In other words, do not have a cookie cutter approach to goal setting. Best performance for everyone is when everyone can use their strengths in a coordinated approach. In our racing example, the drivers want to use their skills and talents, but have to use those to benefit the team. That helps bring in team money, ensures better equipment, and reduces the chances of penalties in future races (using too many engines in a season results in losing starting position later in the season). Working together goes farther towards those goals than individualism.

3.     Look beyond the obvious. Pay attention to who actually did what work on a project or towards achieving common goals. It is good to ask specific questions about roles, contributions and responsibilities rather just assuming what everyone’s’ roles were. This goes for job interviews as well if an applicant is pointing to leading a project. Ask detailed questions about their contributions to clarify their actual role.

4.     Maintain control. When individuals and teams cross paths, get everyone refocused on the organization’s goals and strategic objectives.

             Follow these guidelines and you’ll finish your race with your team (and individual members) on top of the pack.
 
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Eric Smith, CPP is the leading authority on organizational self-defense. He has extensive experience in law enforcement as well as security management. Eric is available for staff education and security awareness training as well as business coaching to help organizations provide safe workplaces. To learn more email eric@businesskarate.com.

 

 

If you would like to reprint this post, please contact Eric at eric@businesskarate.com.