Measures for preparedness LO28902

From: Margaret McIntyre (
Date: 07/25/02

Greetings, fellow LOers,

It's been some time since I've been active on the LO list due the demands
of my life having changed jobs a few times in the last few years, but I
have been in touch with Rick Karash recently on a project that I would
like to ask for help on from the larger LO community. I am under a short
deadline so my timeframe is urgent.

Rick and I co-facilitated a kick off meeting for a community of practice
on bioterrorism response preparedness with folks from local and state
public health and their partners (e.g., hospitals, first responders, law
enforcement) who have been involved with the bioterrorist incidents we've
experienced in the U.S. One of the things we learned in the kick-off
meeting about preparedness was the importance of a well-functioning
network of relationships and established channels for communication BEFORE
an event occurs. Social capital is critical for coordinated emergency
response. This doesn't sound like it should be a stunning new insight, but
what has happened with BT is that agencies who weren't used to working
together and don't understand each others' worlds are being forced to work
together in new ways., so it's a new twist on the problem. In addition,
effective BT response requires coordination across a wide number of people
and topics, making it very complex.

I am in the process of applying to keep our rollover funding for this
project and have decided to focus our efforts on these relationship and
communication aspects across agencies/functions within a community and
across federal, state and local lines. We are interested in working with
folks to build the needed relationships through an action learning process
we would facilitate, improving the actual state of preparedness (what I
consider true knowledge - the capacity to act effectively when called

Given the political pressure to get to an increased state of preparedness,
there is heavy pressure to show "tangible value" for any projects the
government funds. Since most of the world, including the folks who will
read my proposal, typically think of "tangible value" as artifacts of
knowledge (papers describing best practices, lessons learned, etc.) I have
a challenge to develop metrics for showing the improved readiness of the
people if we focus on building the network and quality of their
relationships rather than just talking about building the network or
writing papers on "best practices" or "lessons learned" for building
relationships in this situation.

The value of building actual readiness by building effective relationships
seems so intuitively obvious to me that I'm having a hard time trying to
figure out how to communicate the value in terms my funding audience and
their customers (e.g., Congress) will understand. And I'm having trouble
developing metrics we might use to DEMONSTRATE that value. In thinking
about this problem, I came up with the idea that Navy Seals and other
special forces spend a LOT of time developing their relationships and
their skills so they can count on each other to coordinate effectively
under pressure. They practice many similar components of relationship
building and skill building as I think are necessary for BT preparedness
and thought I might be able to investigate their approach to measuring the
tangible value of their relationships. Perhaps there are other similar
organizations or teams that other know of that would be good models to
look at as well, e.g., National Guard.

Does anyone here know how the special forces measure their increase in
preparedness based on the quality of their relationships or how they
measure their preparedness at all? It seems to me it's in the context of
how effective they are drills, but there might additional research on this
as well that I could benefit from.

I need to get my proposal completed early next week so this is an urgent
request for help. Any feedback would be much appreciated! If you are on
other knowledge, learning and community of practice email lists, I
apologize in advance for cross posting.

Margaret McIntyre
Knowledge Manager
Center for Innovation in Health Information Systems
Atlanta, GA

[Host's Note: Hello Margaret, thanks for your inquiry here. Hope we can
help. ..Rick]


"Margaret McIntyre" <>

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>

"Learning-org" and the format of our message identifiers (LO1234, etc.) are trademarks of Richard Karash.