Measures for preparedness LO28926

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 07/29/02

Replying to LO28902 --

Dear Organlearners,

Margaret McIntyre <> writes:

>.... 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.

Greetings dear Margaret,

I can understand that you are under a short deadline so that your
timeframe is urgent. But please think about this as an experience in what
will come -- when a terrorist strikes, the deadline is up, all involved
have to act with lightning speed and no blunders can be afforded.

>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.

We here in South Africa had been subjected to terrorist attacks from the
early sixties to the early nineties. Terrorists want to destroy existing
organisations in society so that they can impose their own organisations.
To accomplish this, they kill with complete surpise as many innocent
people as possible in a hideous event. This causes pandemonium and fear in
the hearts of many in the rest of society. They begin to react
irrationally and thus destroy their own organisations self to the benefit
of the terrorists.

We learned here in South Africa that public agencies (emergency services,
police, intelligence, military) cannot cope alone with terrorism. The
strategy of terrorists is to instill chaos in the minds and fear in the
hearts of citizins OTHER than the public agencies. Therefore they usually
launch an attack such that especially a public agency is involved. The
effect which this has on the rest of the public is usually devastating.

For example, the three targets which were hit on 11-9 were a great
tradegy. But you Americans were extremely fortunate for having had such
brave people in the fourth jet liner. That liner, together with the third
one hitting the Pentagon, were meant to do the real damage -- to create
pandemonium and fear as never before, to let you destroy your own
organisations self.

What really is needed is for the general public to become educated on
terrorism and not merely the public agencies. Preparedness involves
knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is the capacity to act while wisdom is the
capacity to act swiftly and prudently under all circumstances. So, if you
want to measure preparedness, you will have to measure the knowledge and
wisdom of your ordinary folks on terrorism. Anyone who has taught other
people know how difficult it is to measure reliably any knowledge (and not
memorised information) which resulted from authentic learning.
Furthermore, all such measures have to be done when actually applying such
knowledge in practise.

You are right in seeking communication hardware (technology) which is
operative BEFORE an terrorist event occurs. But you have to seek hardware
which stays operative also during and after the event. However, most
important of all is to have people at the inlets of such hardware who can
produce information which is immediately understandable. Likewise people
are needed at the outlets who will immediately understand this information
as was intended so as to act with knowledge and wisdom upon it.

One thing which worries me very much is that most USA citizins think that
they (or at least their intelligency agencies and political leaders) are
far more intelligent than the terrorists. Never under estimate the enemy,
especially when facts tell you that you have already been doing so.

They also think that the identity of the enemy has been established --
fundamentalistic Islam fighters. There may be other terrorists in other
parts of the world also planning for your demise from a completely
different reactionary view point. There might even be some American people
on USA soil planning the same, hating big money keepers who got your
government and republic irreversibly under their power. When people of
whatever ilk get hurt so much that death is preferable to it and when such
hurt festers into spiritual gangrene, they will react deadly.

Another thing which worries me very much, is the preoccupation of USA
citizins with BT (Bio-Terrorism) -- their news media dictating the course.
This is channel vision of the worst kind! What about CT
(Chemical-Terrorism), NT (Nuclear-Terrorism) and even IT
(Information-Terrorism) like computer virusses. For example, there are
chemical compounds which are more toxic than the most toxic toxins
secreted by microbes. The San (Bushman) people here in South Africa knew
about these substances, how to extract them and how to use them
effectively. They did not know their chemical formulae nor could they
manufacture them from raw substances. Do you really think that the world
is made up from fools?

>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.

This I can understand with deep empathy because it was the same here in
South Africa. And just when we thought that at last we had coordinated it
all, the side-winder struck our society from another angle in complete
surprise. Today I understand why. We rectified the symptoms rather than
the cause. Furthermore, we saw the terrorists as the cause. When the
symptoms disappeared, we thought they would not appear again. They did
reappear because our "immune system" was the faulty cause. The terrorists
were just an infection rather than the real cause.

>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.

I think I understand your dilemma. But please bear with me and do not
consider my contribution as judgemental. The American culture has gone
crazy with technology. Measurements and shifting the cutting edges
("quantity-limit") are crucial to technology. We may think of
"quantity-limit" as knowing our spareness. Technology deals in spareness.
But knowledge is far more than technology and involves far more than
spareness like technology do. Measuring knowledge will reflect only its
spareness. Measuring will not, for example, reflect the wholeness and
openness of knowledge. And as I said before, I think that preparedness is
sustained by knowledge which no metric can certify.

I think you are aware of this dilemma because of articulating the

>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.

The first thing which you will have to face squarely, is the trouble which
you foresee when communicating with the fund providors. Why do you expect
difficulties? What do you know what they do not know? Would BT and the
subsequent disorientation in effective reaction have happened if they then
knew what they now ought to know? Is it not high time that they get off
their high and almighty thrones and begin learning like ordinary people? I
know I sound very negative, but if I have to convince some people to fund
me because of what I know and they do not know, I will not do it unless
they are willing to learn with me. I will definitely never use
demonstrations to convince them after which they leave without having
learnt a bit more. That will be sourcery.

The next thing which you will have to face squarely, is this "building
effective relationships seems so intuitively obvious to me". We have often
explored Michael Polanyi's concept of tacit knowing on our LO-dialogue --
"we know more than we can tell". Is this "intuitively obvious to me" not
perhaps your tacit knowing of these "effective relationships" which you
never have articulated before? Do you think that when you find somebody
else who can articulate it for your, that your fund providers will also
understand their articulation? Will it not happen only when they also have
tacit knowing on these "effective relationships"? Should you not try to
articulate self these "effective relationships" which are "intuitively
obvious" to you? Do you expect it to be easy and rapidly?

>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.

Well, I saw your call this morning (Monday) so that my respond may
already have reached you too late. Secondly, I am deeply under the
impression that the more complex a thing is to learn, the longer time
it takes to learn. You have admitted yourself that what you intend to
do seems to be very complex. It seems to me that you now have three
options which you yourself have articulated:-
 (1) learn self of what you are up to which is highly impropable because
of "a short deadline so my timeframe is urgent".
 (2) study the learning of others which you seem to want to avoid
because of your "rather than just talking about building the network
or writing papers on "best practices" or "lessons learned" "
 (3) borrow "good models to look at as well, e.g., National Guard"
which has "developing[ed] metrics we might use to DEMONSTRATE
that value".

I have articulated a fourth option -- that you consider the already
demonstrated lack of capacity to act in the past BT event as a lack of
knowledge what to do in any coming BT event. This knowledge cannot be
gained in a short time, nor can it be replaced by a model with metrics
which might have worked under different circumstances.

Terrorist have found the Achilles heel of 20th century societies for which
material wealth has become the ultimate. These societies confuse inner
knowledge with external information, thinking that by way of technology
such information (and additional metrics) will provide them with the
capacity to act when under a terrorist attack.

Please take this lesson at heart -- all the computing power at Wall Street
could not prevent its deep fall with the bottom not yet in sight. I have
learned an important lesson -- when the rats leave the ship or the fleas
jump off the body, its time to act swiftly and prudently.

Lastly, I do hope that you will be able to make a sensible proposal which
your fund providers will accept. I feel that you are caught up in a sort
of, if I may say so, ET (Economical-Terrorism). I think you have to bear
in mind that the fact that they accepted your proposal does not make it
sensible. It will be sensible when it truely prepares the American public
for the next terrorist event. I have the American people in my heart and I
fear that few of them understand what the future has in stall for them.
There will be a next BT, CT, NT, IT or ET event and it will be a complete
surprise again.

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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