Emergency Management Solutions Newsletter

Volume 8 No. 1                                                                                           January 2016

In This Issue
Featured Video
Blog Highlights
The Leadership Challenge
Consulting Transitions
Featured Article
Professional Development
Life Balance
From the Bookshelf
Speaker's Corner
Join My Mailing List
Featured Video


The Challenger Accident

January 28th is the 30th anniversary of the 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. The shuttle exploded 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members. While the proximate cause of the disaster was traced to faulty O-rings, the real issue has always been the decision to launch at temperatures below the operating range of the rings. Blame has been attributed to engineers not presenting data clearly enough, on corporate greed on the part of the contractor who built the shuttle, and on NASA's cullture, making the Challenger disaster an interesting case study in a variety of subject areas.

Blog Highlights

Canton blog masthead

Visit My Blog

The following are excerpts from my blog
Canton on Emergency Management. Please visit my blog to see the rest of my articles.  


An investigation by a major newspaper revealed a major flaw in a transportation security system. But should this information have been made public?...╗

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If you are having trouble accessing these articles, go directly to the blog by clicking either the logo or the green "Visit my blog" button.

EM Blog Masthead

Visit My Blog

The following are excerpts from my blog, Managing Crisis, published by Emergency Management Magazine. Please visit my blog to see the rest of my articles.


In the past I have discussed the problem of normalization: our predisposition to see what we expect to see rather than what is actually occurring. This is particularly prevalent when dealing with slow onset disasters or cascading events. We miss the cues that tell us a crisis is occurring ...╗

Visit my blog

If you are having trouble accessing these articles, go directly to the blog by clicking either the logo or the green "Visit my blog" button.
The Leadership Challenge
What Is The Leadership Challenge?

Is leadership a learned behavior or an innate personality trait? While there are certainly naturally charismatic individuals who are considered "born leaders", leadership is a measurable set of behaviors that can be learned and taught. This is the conclusion arrived at by researchers Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner after years of rigorous research. Starting in 1982, Kouzes and Posner set out to understand what happened when leaders performed at their personal best. They conducted hundreds of interviews and reviewed hundreds of cases studies and survey questionnaires. What emerged were five fundamental practices common to extraordinary leadership achievements:
  1. Model the Way
  2. Inspire a Shared Vision
  3. Challenge the Process
  4. Enable Others to Act
  5. Encourage the Heart
The Leadership Challenge begins with a 360-degree assessment of thirty leadership behaviors associated with the five practices, the Leadership Practices Inventory. The results are used to identify opportunities for improving as a leader by increasing the frequency of specific behaviors. Based on over thirty years of research, the Leadership Challenge is an effective and practical tool for leadership development.

To find out more about the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership, consider taking The Leadership Challenge. Just click on the icon below for more information:
Click here to take The Leadership Challenge

The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations
by James M. Kouzes  & Barry Posner 

The Leadership Challenge is a registered trademark of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. www.leadershipchallenge.com
Consulting Transitions
Free Resource Guide for Solo Consultants

For solo consultants, true wealth is discretionary time. Don't waste yours on simple tasks that can be handled by technology. This free resource guide reveals the four essential online tools I use to manage my solo consulting practice and save hours of valuable time. And the best part is - they're free!

Interested in exploring the world of consulting? My new membership site might be just the resource you need to get started. You'll have access to blogs designed to answer very specific questions, a resource library of templates and articles, the opportunity to network with peers, and discounts on coaching and training programs. Download the free guide or click on the logo above to go straight to the site.

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Quick Links
L. Canton Photo 2013  

Welcome to the January issue of Emergency Management Solutions.

We're off to what seems like another crazy year: a major blizzard on the East Coast, the start of El Nino on the West Coast, even an incidence of civil disobedience in the Midwest. Here in San Francisco my colleagues are immersed in planning for the upcoming Super Bowl and you don't have to be an emergency manager to understand the many risks they have to consider. We'll all breathe a sigh of relief when everything is over.

This month's issue is devoted to the Challenger accident that occurred in 1986. Besides being one of those incidents we will never forget, I believe there are valuable lessons on decision making that we can still learn from the incident.

As I've mentioned before, I'm in the midst of writing the second edition of my book, Emergency Management: Concepts and Strategies for Effective Programs and it's turned out to a much more extensive rewrite than I thought. My deadline is April, so if you have any suggestions or constructive criticism, I'd appreciate hearing from you.


Lucien Canton  
Featured Article

Featured Article
The Challenger Accident
A Study in Poor Decision Making

It's hard to imagine that January 28, 1986 is the 30th anniversary of the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. The image of the exploding rocket booster on national television is one that few of us who saw it will ever forget and it still seems like the tragedy happened just yesterday. But even after thirty years, the accident can still offer lessons that are as pertinent today as at the time - lessons in the dangers of poor decision making.


If you are having trouble viewing my featured article, try clicking on the link at the top of the page. You can always find my articles in the white paper section of my blog site, Canton on Emergency Management.

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Professional Development
New FEMA IS Courses Released

The Emergency Management Institute has released several new independent study courses that are both timely and useful. In the wake of the San Bernardino attack and the concern over school safety, two courses on workplace violence and active shooter response for the layperson are particularly relevant. In addition there are is an update to the emergency planning course and a new course on planning for the needs of children. You can find more information at EMI's Distance Learning website.
  • IS-106.16 - Workplace Violence Awareness TrainingThe goal of this course is to give employees awareness of violence in the workplace, how to recognize the warning signs, and what actions to take to prevent or minimize violence
  • IS-907 - Active Shooter: What You Can DoThis course provides guidance to individuals, including managers and employees, so that they can prepare to respond to an active shooter situation.
  • IS-235.c - Emergency PlanningThis course is designed for emergency management personnel who are involved in developing an effective emergency planning system. 
  • IS-366.a - Planning for the Needs of Children in DisastersThe purpose of this course is to provide guidance for Emergency Managers and implementers of children's programs about meeting the unique needs that arise among children as a result of a disaster or emergency.
Professional Development Opportunities

New Orleans, Louisiana
March 1-3, 2016 
This conference, previously known as the International Disaster and Conference Expo, will focus on disaster and resiliency in a global environment. Topics include economic resilience, emergency management, coastal restoration and water management, homeland security, and business continuity.

Preparedness Summit
Dallas, Texas
April 19-22
The goal of the Preparedness Summit is to provide a venue where participants are exposed to current information, research findings, and practical tools to enhance the participants' capabilities to plan and prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters and other public health emergencies.

July 10-13, 2016
The Annual Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop is designed to bring researchers and practitioners from many disciplines together for face-to-face discussions on how society deals with hazards and disasters.
Life Balance
 Changing the World

When I was at FEMA I had to sit through a training program that had so little impact on me that I can't even remember the subject. However, I do remember one statement by the instructor, "If you want to change the world, start by cleaning your closet."  His point was that we often don't accomplish things because we look to the larger outcomes rather than seeking small wins that move us incrementally towards our goal.  

This is the time of year when a lot of people are making grand resolutions, most of which won't make it to February. I'm not a believer in making resolutions but I do try to look for small ways to improve. For example, I realized recently that I was missing important messages because I was receiving something like 2000 emails a month. While I do direct them to various folders and use a spam filter, there are still a lot to skim each day. For the past week I've been unsubscribing from all the various email lists that I've ended up on and never read. I'm already starting to see a reduced volume. It may not change the world but I'm less likely to miss an important email.

Consultant Alan Weiss is fond of saying that if you can improve by 1% each day, in 70 days you'll be 100% better. I'm not sure about the math but you get the idea. You don't train for a marathon by running 26 miles the first day; you start out with shorter distances and gradually increase the length of your runs until you get where you want to be. Forget the New Year's resolution; ask yourself what small improvement you can make TODAY that will move you forward.
From the Bookshelf
The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture, and Deviance at NASA
by Diane Vaughan

In this revisionist history of the Challenger accident, sociologist Diane Vaughn goes beyond the popular belief that the decision to launch was made by mid-level managers who were influenced by a corporate culture that pressured them to launch. Vaughn digs deeper to explain the context in which the decision was made, making the case for the normalization of deviance at NASA that prevented good decision making.

The book is heavy going. Vaughn goes into considerable detail, even reconstructing the fateful conference call almost most minute by minute to explain what made managers who were also engineers ignore what would later seem to be overwhelming evidence that the launch was at risk. It's a fascinating blend of solid historical research and sociological theory and there's a lot here to spark thinking about your own organization.


Interested in more books on emergency management and related topics?

Emergency Management: Concepts and Strategies for Effective Programs
by Lucien G. Canton

Speaker's Corner

Need a speaker for your next conference? I offer keynotes, seminars and workshops.
Why Should You Choose Me As Your Speaker?
Three Reasons Why I'm the Right Speaker for Your Conference 
You can find more details and sample videos on my website or on my SpeakerMatch page.  
Speaking Engagements 

Now taking bookings for 2016

ęLucien G. Canton 2016. All rights reserved.


You may reprint and excerpt this newsletter provided that you include my copyright, the source,
the author, and "reprinted with permission."

ISSN: 2334-590X