--> Gill Blog: December 2004

Gill Blog

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Wake-up Call

India became the first nation stricken by the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunamis to vow to set up an early warning system, despite the expense and the fact it may not be needed for a generation or longer, according to a report by the Reuters news agency.

Affected countries had no warning of Sunday's devastating sea wave that killed tens of thousands of people unnecessarily because tsunamis are so rare in the area they are not tracked. An early warning system operated by NOAA to raise the alarm of tsunamis and save lives already covers much of the Pacific.
Sunday's wall of water that hit coasts in Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka and other countries was spotted by U.S. seismologists.

However, they said they had no way to warn local governments even though the tsunami hit shore up to two-and-a-half hours after the mega-quake off the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.

"We tried to do what we could," said Charles McCreery, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Honolulu centre. "We don't have contacts in our address book for anybody in that part of the world."

Learn more about the TsunamiReady program of the National Weather Service.

The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami weblog , or SEA-EAT blog, has been established to provide an immediate community response concerning this natural disaster.

Here's the latest news about the tsunamis.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

In the Beginning...

Jo Verde, JeMM Consultants
Gill Advisor for Change & Training Solutions

It might be easier to define the term Change Management by talking about what it is not.

We are not talking changing a business process, although effective change management is a process. We are not talking about a change in technology, although effective change management can address the effects of a change in technology. We are not talking about introducing a new system, although effective change management can ensure the successful implementation. We are not talking about a change in location or a teleworking policy, although effective change management will encourage thoughtful consideration and planning. You get the picture.

Change management is the processes, tools and techniques for managing the people-side of change. So clearly, change management is how employees experience the change and about managing change to realize business results. Poor change management is the number one reason for business initiatives failure.

There are very specific steps any organization must take to successfully implement any change initiative. Typically an organization would have an internal sponsor, usually a business leader or executive in the organization. Generally, this would be the individual driving the change. Having an active sponsor should be viewed as the most important success factor. It is also important that you don’t confuse sponsorship with support. Sponsorship requires visible and active participation in the change process and a specific currency management skill set. Some of these are influencing skills, coaching skills, effective chairing skills etc. and if the sponsor doesn’t quite know what this looks like, the project leader is there to guide and articulate the expectations.

In the beginning, it is key to look at an organization’s state of readiness. This means looking at the change itself, the organization and the employees. All this data collection and more, will provide the planning aid so the strategy and plan can be formulated.

The Change:
  • Number of employees impacted
  • Size of Change
  • Type of Change
  • Amount of Change
The Organization:
  • Organization’s culture and value system
  • Capacity for change
  • Leadership styles
  • Power distribution
  • What has happened with previous change initiatives
  • What is management’s predisposition to change
The Employees:
  • Employees’ personal readiness for change
  • Employee’s perception of the organization’s readiness
  • Employee’s assessment of the change and how they look at the personal impact
You can’t build a roadmap to get you somewhere if you don’t truly understand your starting point and the obstacles you will have to maneuver to reach your destination.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Experts: influenza pandemic inevitable, possibly imminent

Recently, we posted the question on the Gill blog, "Are we ill-prepared for pandemic influenza?" And, following a meeting of world health leaders in Bangkok last week, the World Health Organization has released a dire warning concerning avian influenza—bird flu.

What's the threat to humans from bird flu? The Mayo Clinic explains:
Viruses are masters of interspecies navigation. Mutating rapidly and often grabbing the genetic material of other viruses, they can jump from animals to humans with a quick flick of their DNA. Sometimes, as in West Nile fever, the transfer occurs through an intermediate host such as a mosquito or tick. But viruses can also skip the middleman and make the leap directly.

Since the 1980s, when HIV was first identified, the list of diseases that have hitchhiked directly from animals to people has grown rapidly — hantavirus, SARS, monkeypox and, most recently, avian influenza, commonly called bird flu. With the exception of HIV/AIDS, perhaps none of these illnesses has more potential to create widespread harm than bird flu does.

In a recent article in the New York Times, the warnings of the World Health Organization about pandemic avian influenza are reported in frank terms.
Governments should be prepared to close schools, office buildings and factories to slow the rate of new infections if a pandemic strikes, and should work out emergency staffing arrangements to prevent a breakdown in basic public services like electricity and transportation, W.H.O.'s regional director for Asia and the Pacific, Dr. Shigeru Omi, said.

Such arrangements may be needed if the disease infects 25 to 30 percent of the world's population, Dr. Omi said in a speech and news conference. That is the W.H.O.'s current estimate for what could happen if the disease - currently found mainly in chickens, ducks and other birds - develops the ability to spread easily from person to person.

The death toll associated with the rapid spread of a new form of human influenza would be high, Dr. Omi said. While W.H.O. has previously said that the death toll would be 2 million to 7 million people, Dr. Omi said the toll "may be more - 20 million or 50 million, or in the worst case, 100" million.

And Dr. Omi said that in his opinion a global pandemic of influenza was "very, very likely" now.

The World Health Organisation's Peter Cordingley recently gave an interview to Australian Broadcasting Corporation's South-East Asia Correspondent Peter Lloyd.
PETER LLOYD: So what sort of recommendations is the WHO making to governments about how they should prepare for such a catastrophe?

PETER CORDINGLEY: Well, the first thing we tell them is, if there is a pandemic, don't count on a vaccine because first of all, there won't be one for at least six months. And secondly, even if there is one in large numbers after six months, you will not be able to immunise everybody. And if everybody is not immunised then quite clearly, this virus can slip through.

Everybody in the world has to be immunised to stop it and you can see that's just not realistic. So, they should a) stock up on anti-virals. Theses are the core anti-flu drugs that people use every year. It will not stop this virus, we don't think, but it might make the medical impact of this virus less serious.

The second thing they have to do is to scale up their public health systems. There's going to be a lot of sick people, hospitals are going to be overwhelmed. Isolation wards need now, to be identified and put in place. Doctors and nurses have to be trained in the right reactions.

And the third advice is of course, there is going to be large scale absenteeism from the workplace. These are the things that they should think about now, not when the pandemic starts, if it does start.

Wait a minute. Are governments making plans for large scale absenteeism from the workplace? Or, is workplace continuity something business leaders should be planning to manage for their corporations, now, as part of their Business Continuity Management strategy? We really should get together on this.