Attending QuakeCoRE Annual Meeting as a new Post-Doc

Attending QuakeCoRE Annual Meeting as a new Post-Doc

“Half of us today attended the QuakeCoRE meeting last year, the other half are here for the first time – many crossed continents to join us,” announced Professor Brendon Bradley, QuakeCoRE Deputy Director, before dinner on the first day of the 3-days meeting in Taupo, September 2017.

Our new Postdoctoral Researcher Saree Lawler was part of the latter group, although her claim of travelling only gets as exciting as only a Christchurch-Auckland-Taupo route could offer.

Nevertheless, Saree had a positive experience and would describe the Taupo gathering as a wonderful meeting of minds. The overall atmosphere was friendly and welcoming, the chats were thought-provoking and insightful, the posters were high-quality,  offering a glimpse into the social/economic side of seismic resilience research, and catering was excellent (as voted as well by several colleagues from the U.S. - think 6-hour slow-cooked beef with steamed greens and pearl couscous, finished with scrumptious pav, among others).

But Saree of course also focused on the more serious issues at hand throughout the three days. Some other highlights were:

  • A most distinguished lecture from Emeritus Professor Masayoshi Nakashima of Kyoto University on a Japanese way of establishing resilient cities.
  • An insightful keynote presentation on earthquake resilience in the Maori community from Tā Mark Solomon (Kaiwhakahaere, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu).
  • A workshop on different financial tools for earthquake resilience from different sectors (treasury, academia, insurance and independent research groups), chaired by Ken Elwood, QuakeCoRE Director. It was an all-day workshop, but it was so well worth it that the room remained overfull to the close at 4 pm.
  • Five excellent plenary sessions on key subjects including earthquake preparedness planning and post-event decision making, risk mitigation and transfer, future policy, research and practice, and interdepencies in raising seismic resilience. Erica Seville, ResOrgs Director, gave a talk in the last plenary session about modelling the long-term ‘unquantifiable and uncertain’ future, arguing for a shift from models that fixate on discrete, time-bound outcomes to ones that incorporate fluid decision dynamics.
  • An opportunity to ask for feedback on the prototype of the Resilience Menu project as part of the ResOrgs poster presentation at the meeting.

All in all, a most productive trip to the beautiful Taupo where Huka Falls mesmerise, Lake Taupo wows, and the thermal pools beckon. Saree would love to go back next year, and be able to say ‘I was here last year and loving it’ like many attendees did.

Raising the bar – getting our keystone organisations better engaged and prepared

Raising the bar - getting our keystone organisations better engaged and prepared

Following on from their National Emergency Management Conference in early June, the New Zealand Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM) have uploaded videos of some of the conference presentations, including Erica Seville's presentation on better preparing organisations' for crisis.


Erica Seville shortlisted for a Continuity and Resilience Consultant 2017 Award at the BCI Australasian Awards

Erica Seville shortlisted for a Continuity and Resilience Consultant 2017 Award at the BCI Australasian Awards

ResOrgs Managing Director, Erica Seville has been shortlisted for a Continuity and Resilience Consultant 2017 Award at the BCI Australasian Awards.

This is a well deserved recognition of Erica's continuing work leading and mentoring a group of researchers and consultants working to make public and private sector organisations more resilient.  Alongside this, in 2016, Erica published a book; Resilient Organisations: How to Survive, Thrive and Create Opportunities Through Crisis and Change.

The BCI Australian Awards are an annual celebration of the best, brightest and most innovative in the continuity and resilience industry across the region. The BCI note that they are designed to recognise the individuals and organizations who have excelled in the field of business continuity and resilience throughout the year. The Awards are one of seven regional awards hosted by the BCI each year, which culminate in the annual Global Awards, held in November during the Institute’s annual conference in London, England.

The winners of the awards will be announced at a Gala Dinner and Ceremony to be held in Sydney on the 31st August 2017.

Learning new creative strategies for designing and facilitating learning experiences

Learning new creative strategies for designing and facilitating learning experiences

How much time do we spend ‘perfecting’ a report, or a proposal, or any of our outputs only to find we were answering the wrong question? Or that our solution did not gel with those meant to be served?

Design Thinking offers a new way of approaching problems that can help us to avoid these issues and ensure that our work is making a meaningful difference.  Although often thought of as ‘product’ related, design thinking concepts can be used to aid better practice in education, research and consulting.

Tracy Hatton has just returned from an intensive 4-day boot camp at the Hasso Plattner School of Design at Stanford University.  This program inspires new ways of understanding and tackling challenges with a core focus on ensuring a human centric approach to problem definition and solution ideation.

We are excited to see how some of the concepts might help in building more resilient organisations.

Resilience to nature’s challenges researchers want to make resilience visible

Resilience to nature’s challenges researchers want to make resilience visible

The human brain processes information visually. How can we help people see resilience? Stories. Photos. Displaying layers of data on a map.

The trajectories toolbox has ammased a bank of over 400 indicators that have been used to capture some aspect of resilience to disruption in the complex systems that make up life in New Zealand. Seeing-the-invisbleThese indicators are being matched to available data and will be geocoded in a way that will allow us to see the differences across space and time.

As the saying goes “what gets measured gets done”. When communities are able to set targets and track their progress it motivates action. Researchers, communities, and resilience practitioners will be able to mine existing public data in a resilience context to assess their strengths, weaknesses, assets, and capabilities. The trajectories toolbox will also continue to work across the challenge working with community based co-creation partners and with Government players needing to track progress toward the National Resilience Plan and the Sendai Framework for Action.

Read more about the Resilience to Nature's Challenge Resilience Trajectories Toolbox Project

Creating future ready farm businesses

Creating future ready farm businesses

Earlier this month, the North Canterbury Drought Response Committee, in collaboration with Resilient Organisations and Fraser Pastoral, held a workshop for a group of farmers in the Hurunui District of Canterbury.

The workshop focused on how farmers could build their capacity now to navigate future turbulence.

Farmers in North Canterbury have recently faced serious adversity with a three-year drought, earthquakes, and shifting public perceptions of farming. The workshop was a chance for farmers to take time out from their day-to day operations and focus on big picture strategy. It gave them tools to change their approach to future disruptions from setbacks to opportunities for innovation and growth. The attendees came with open minds, generated thoughtful discussion, and demonstrated a clear readiness and growing capacity to lead their businesses into the future.

Read the report from the workshop

Resilient Organizations book available to buy online

Resilient Organizations

Latest Report: Kaikoura Earthquake Social Science Research Workshop

Latest Report: Kaikoura Earthquake Social Science Research Workshop

Our latest report summarises the Kaikoura Earthquake Social Science Research Workshop held in February this year and lessons learned about research collaboration, coordination,and impact following major disruptive events.It includes te research and research coordination priorities for the Kaikoura earthquake and tsunami, that were identified during the workshop.

View full report

Why testing and exercising are essential for an effective business continuity plan

Why testing and exercising are essential for an effective business continuity plan

Business Continutity Plans are often created in the spirit of compliance and obligation, rather than a desire for real organisational readiness. They sit in the filing cabinet gathering dust along with the insurance policy and that warranty for the printer your company bought back in 2007.

In order for Business Continuity Plans to be effective when the ground starts shaking (literally or figuratively) they need to be well thought out documents, but more importantly, they need to be practiced as a living strategy. Stress testing plans is important to both ensure plans are adequate but also to make sure staff are practiced and ready to face a crisis when it occurs. Plans are not particularly valuable if staff do not know how to implement them, or worse, do not even know they exist!

But stress testing plans can seem like just another burden. Fire drills stopped being fun after primary school! So what are some ways that your organisation can start engaging staff members in business continuity planning that won't feel like another time-consuming compliance exercise?

9 Ideas for Stress Testing Your Plans that Don't Feel like Homework on a Saturday
  1. Plan a morning tea or Friday drinks crisis scenario session with staff. Put some simple scenarios to your staff and see what kinds of responses and questions they come up with.
  2. Organise a half-day workshop for all new staff to welcome them to the organisation and introduce them to the plan.  This could be designed, through interactive scenario based training, to introduce new staff to the region, the hazards, the organisations involved and dependencies between the organisations. This will help new staff learn about the organisation and start building partnerships.
  3. Develop a series of small 15-30 minute crisis scenarios for the group to share. Choose one scenario each month for different teams to carry out each month. Observations from the exercises can then be shared at regular staff meetings.
  4. Get staff out of the office.  Have a day or two a year where staff exercise remote operations (e.g. working from home).
  5. Get staff together over lunch one week and brainstorm possible approaches to service restoration and rapid impact assessment.  The following week, give them a crisis scenario to test these approaches. Divide into groups and challenge them to see who can come up with the most effective restoration strategy.
  6. Have staff swap roles (perhaps even desks and literal hats) during planning exercises or while discussing crisis scenarios.  This will help break down silos in the organisation.
  7. Hold a workshop with other organisations to discuss opportunities for site and resource sharing. This will build valuable partnerships for your business during non-crisis times too.
  8. Make sure people know how to get in touch if the regular communication systems are down. Compile a list; make multiple copies in both electronic (mobile phone, USB stick or in the cloud) and paper format and diary a reminder to check that it is up to date periodically. Make sure it's up to date every few months by having everyone call the next person down on the list to invite them to a company lunch or coffee date.
  9. Practice the ultimate computer crash scenario to find out what data is critical and where it's stored.  Check in with everyone about where their backup data is stored? Brainstorm about what kind of disaster would destroy backup data too? How do you reduce this risk? Does anyone else in your organisation know where to find and retieve this information if you were not there?

The vital link between businesses and communities after disaster

The vital link between businesses and communities after disaster

Christchurch’s earthquake -hit services, particularly those we often take for granted, proved the perfect case study for Joanne Stevenson.

The University of Canterbury PhD student is nearly three years into her thesis on organisational resilience and the vital post disaster link between businesses and communities.

“I’m trying to create a more connected understanding of organisational resilience and figure out what it means for businesses and what it means for policy and development,” said Joanne. “It’s about making the links between an organisation and the community they’re a part of more clear.”

Joanne said people often didn’t consider the importance of businesses in establishing both social and economic progress following a major disaster.

“We rely on businesses for so much of the daily interaction in our lives. Often people don’t think about businesses in the sense of community and economic recovery but organisations are important hubs of social interaction.”

Joanne uses the example of wanting a coffee after the September earthquake to illustrate the important role of businesses in everyday life.

She had to drive around several outlets which were closed before finding a service centre that served coffee where she waited an hour. This small example illustrates how everyday services provided by business, no matter how big or small, are an integral factor to consider in post disaster communities.

Following both the September 2010 and February 2011 quakes Joanne surveyed 360 organisations throughout Canterbury. She then selected 32 businesses within the selected areas of Christchurch CBD, Kaiapoi and Lyttelton to carry out comprehensive case studies on.

facade-containersThroughout last year Joanne spent hours with each organisation, getting to know their post quake worksite and develop an understanding of their economic situation.

She was then able to compare the data gained from these interviews with the earlier surveys to evaluate the level of business resilience both immediately post quake and again at a later period.

A surprising find resulting from her research was four organisations reporting significant positive economic outcomes.

“Some of the businesses that were most disrupted by the earthquakes experienced a significant pick up in cash flow,” said Joanne.

In one example a business lost their retail outlet in the February 2011 quake and was forced to change to wholesale selling. The new products designed for wholesale led to a higher turnover for the company resulting in increased revenue.

Joanne’s findings also revealed the impact disasters have on a business’ operational objectives.

Post quake many businesses called on a range of contacts, both formal and informal, to provide additional labour. For some organisations this meant family members helping with administrative backlog while other businesses redistributed their work to different offices around the country.

Managing employee wellbeing and stress was another challenge identified by several organisations. A range of methods were undertaken by businesses to lend staff the emotional support they often required.

Joanne’s research showed that in post disaster environments competing businesses were often best positioned to provide each other with assistance because of familiarity with the operational and supply processes.

The earthquakes also acted as a stimulus for some businesses to re-evaluate their overall efficiency, allowing them to upgrade technologies and identify underperforming segments of the organisation.