This book presents concepts and methods for optimal training for decision making in crisis situations. After presenting some general concepts of decision-making during crisis situations, it presents various innovations for optimal training, such as serious games, scenario design, adapted animation of crisis exercises, observation and debriefing of exercises related to pedagogical objectives.
Professor Sophie SAUVAGNARGUES, Teacher-researcher, Ecole des Mines d'Ales, France.
Concepts, Tools and Methods for Crisis Management Training
The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of the field of crisis management training. As a first step, the descriptive elements of the crisis unit will make it possible to delineate the characteristics of this top decision-making place. Then, the different aspects of crisis management training will be addressed, before thoroughly introducing the concept of crisis simulations, which are one of the specific forms that trainings may adopt. Simulations are built and characterized by scenarios which materialize the training goals and educational content and thus favor a relevant organizational learning process. Finally, in order to illustrate the overview of this problem, we will portray the simulation and research platform of the French Institute of Risk Sciences (IMT Mines Alès).
1.1. The crisis unit at the heart of the process
The crisis team reunites decision makers who face a critical situation in a single place.
A crisis unit can be defined as a team with strong organizational integration (Sundstrom et al. 1990), in which different roles and responsibilities are finely structured (Salas et al. 1992) and hierarchized (Ahlstrom et al. 2000; Vraie et al. 2010). The members of the crisis unit are mobilized because of their skills and knowledge, and share a frame of reference and procedures (Ahlström et al. 2000) in order to accomplish the missions entrusted to them (Lachtar 2012). Considering that the activation of a crisis unit depends on the occurrence of an event requiring its mobilization, it is actually an ephemeral organization (Dautun and Lacroix 2013; MAEE 2017).
This top decision-making place, which, by definition, must suddenly be ready for operations, can quickly assume the features of a bunker, in order to accomplish its function for centralizing the various members of the organization (Maisonneuve 2010). However, it is essential that its members do not perceive the crisis room as a bunker (Lagadec 1995, 2012), so as to avoid the harmful effects of confinement on the decision-making process.
Human behavior, whether individual or collective, is at the core of a crisis unit's life (Guzzo et al. 1995; Marks et al. 2001; Weil et al. 2004; Hussain et al. 2007). Beyond the achievement of specific tasks, behavioral processes occupy a prominent place in the functioning of the crisis unit (Shanahan et al. 2007), particularly in regard to coordination, cooperation and communication mechanisms between members. In an emergency, the decision-making process is complex because the crisis unit is exposed to high levels of stress (highly challenging decisions, hierarchical or media pressure, etc.), as well as different prejudices, which may have an impact on its members, their representations and their decisions. During the acute phase of a crisis, it seems that policymakers prefer procedural (Crichton 2000; O'Connor and Dea 2007; Lagadec 2012), intuitive (Klein 1997; Lagadec and Guilhou 2002a,b) and creative (Crichton 2000; O'Connor and Dea 2007) decision-making, in the measure that their experience and the unpredictability of the crisis increase (Lapierre 2016).
Therefore, training exercises can prepare crisis unit decision makers for the complexity of these unstable universes, and help them to deal with the obstacles encountered during a critical situation, regardless of whether these are individual difficulties or collective dysfunctions.
Collective dysfunctions mainly concern the transmission of information within the crisis unit, as well as among the actors involved, particularly on how they understand the situation and cope with stress and organizational aspects. They have a direct impact on decision-making and an indirect one on the whole of the organization. These dysfunctions can be classified according to the categories presented in Table 1.1.
Table 1.1. Collective dysfunctions that may emerge at the crisis unit (according to Lapierre (2016) and Limousin (2017)) Problems related to the transmission of information References
Weak information sharing King et al.
(2008) Improper information transmission: omissions, inaccuracies, lack of clarity, etc. Crichton and Flin (2004), Guarnieri et al.
(2016), Guarnieri et al.
(2015) Selectivity in the information chosen, oversight of other relevant data Kowalski-Trakofler and Vaught (2003), Guarnieri et al.
(2015) Lack of validation, decision control Guarnieri et al.
(2015) Dysfunctions related to the situation
Insufficient knowledge about the event and the stakes involved Dautun (2007) Difficulty to obtain a common operating picture, a common mental representation Seppänen et al.
(2013), Lagadec (2015) Collapse of sense ("sense-making") Weick (1995) Control fantasy Kouabenan et al.
(2006) Misrepresentation of risk, normalization of deviance Vaughan (1996) Effects of "groupthink" on the crisis unit Guarnieri et al.
(2015) Lack of perspective on the situation Lagadec and Guilhou (2002a,b) Negation of the unexpected Lagadec (2012) Inadequate or erroneous assessment of the situation Crichton and Flin (2004), Guarnieri et al.
(2015), Orasanu (2010) Misunderstanding in the face of inconsistent, inadequate or unfeasible demands Guarnieri et al.
(2015) Dysfunctions related to stress
Denial, voluntary blindness, negation of the unexpected Kouabenan et al.
(2006), Lagadec (2010), Heiderich (2010), Lagadec (2012) Blocking action, ineffective processing of information Kouabenan et al.
(2006), Combalbert and Delbecque (2012) Feeling of invulnerability Kouabenan et al.
(2006) Consternation Crocq et al.
(2009) Disorientation of members Heiderich (2010) Decrease in alertness and memory capabilities Kontogiannis and Kossiavelou (1999) Need to find/appoint leaders, instead of becoming involved Wybo (2009) Ignorance, beliefs, ideology, arrogance and intellectual misrepresentation Lagadec (2010), Heiderich (2010), Lagadec (2012) Organizational dysfunctions
Partial implementation or difficulty of setting up the cell Dautun (2007) Lack of available resources Guarnieri et al.
(2015) Lack of reflexes, or bad reflexes Suchet (2015) Ambiguity of roles Moulin (2014) Incorrect distribution of tasks, lack of (or bad pooling of) resources Kanki (2010) Blind endorsement or misapplication of procedures Crichton and Flin (2004), Lagadec (2012) Weak leadership Kanki (2010), Moulin (2014) Disobedience to the leader Guarnieri et al.
(2015) Tensions, conflicts, lack of cohesion Van Vliet and van Amelsfoort (2008), Argillos (2004) Lack of consensus Denis (1993) Collapse or lack of coordination devices Weick (1995), Lagadec (2012), Kim et al.
(2015), Smith and Dowell (2000) Lack of support from the leaders, excessive hierarchical pressure Guarnieri et al.
(2015) Lack of deep personal knowledge and of other players Moulin (2014) Isolation and confinement of crisis unit members Guarnieri et al.
(2015) Lack of adaptability, difficulty to innovate, improvise or reorganize oneself Edmond (2011), Autissier et al.
(2012) Lack of anticipation Lagadec and Guilhou (2002a,b) Dysfunctions associated with external crisis communication
Absence or lack of external communication to the cell Lagadec (1995) Difficult or inappropriate communication with the outside Dautun (2007); Kim et al.
These difficulties and shortcomings show the importance of the human factor for crisis management. On the other hand, during critical situations, managers are confronted with other...