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Project Manager : Project Manager June July 2012
22 Project Manager LEssONs FROm BLACK swAN EVENTs OVER ThE LAsT CENTURY Depression of the 1930s Assassination of John F Kennedy Devaluation of the baht and the Asian financial crisis Collapse of Enron September 11 Hurricane Katrina Christchurch earthquakes Timeline of evenTs ( One of the key lessons from all these events is the necessity of maintaining communication systems throughout a black swan event. Many people will remember the importance of social media when Hurricane Katrina hit. It was bloggers who kept the public informed about what was going on given phone lines were down. For project managers, it’s essential project teams have access to smart phones so that in the event voice communication systems go down, people are still able to communicate through text-based systems such as Twitter and even SMS. The other key lesson is the importance of having information backed up in a number of locations. The experience of financial services business Cantor Fitzgerald following the September 11 terrorist attacks is a great lesson. Because the business, whose New York office including more than 600 staff were completely obliterated in the attacks, had backed up its accounting information and other data in its London office, it could continue to operate. “Following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, although no-one was prepared for such a catastrophic event, many businesses, especially the nuclear reactors, had a culture of resilience and they were able to emerge from the situation relatively well,” says Neil Plumridge. “But in Australia, very few businesses are having conversations about how to be resilient in the face of a black swan event. It’s sometimes talked about in manufacturing, but in other areas it’s just not happening,” he says. Paul Campbell says often it’s in the rebuilding phase that lessons are learnt when it comes to natural disasters that are black swan events. “T his will certainly be the case with Christchurch,” he says. Queensland floods Japanese earthquake and tsunami 22 Project Manager • COvER STORy Collapse of Lehman Bros and ensuing global financial crisis Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami
Project Manager April May 2012
Project Manager Aug Sept 2012