Spotlight on Women and Power
EACH SPRING, 40 to 50 women convene at the Kennedy School for a week-long executive education program designed for leaders in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Women and Power (W&P), established in 2002 and pioneered by planning chairs David Gergen IOP 1984 and Swanee Hunt, has become an essential part of the career development of many women who are at the top of their fields. In the autumn 2004 issue of the Bulletin, the program’s faculty chair, professor Hannah Riley Bowles, shared some of the praises the program has received from past participants.
Recently, Lisa Matthews W&P 2002, director at North American Management Corporation, said, “The Women and Power Program came at an opportune time for me, while I was in transition. I had recently sold my second financial services business and was entertaining options for what my next business looked like. Over the week, those ideas evolved, became more focused, and I was able to put a plan into place. Through the program’s board of directors meetings and case studies on leadership, gender, transformation, and power, and the encouragement and support of so many successful women from such different worlds, I successfully negotiated to become the first outside partner allowed to buy in and their first woman partner. I guarantee a worthwhile and life-changing week.”
In a letter to Dean David Ellwood, another participant, Tanja Popovic W&P 2004, the acting associate director for science at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote: “All I can say is that it [W&P] was simply outstanding. It was an experience especially useful to me at a time when Centers for Disease Control, our nation’s premier health protection agency, was undergoing functional and structural change to better meet the public health challenges of the 21st century.”
And Alison Chung W&P 2003, president of Teamwerks, recently said, “I am proud to say that as a result of my having attended the program, I was recently named 2004 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year by the Women’s Business Development Center.”
For more information about Women and Power, go to www.ksg.harvard.edu/execed or contact Program Director Robyn Champion at email@example.com. Read Hannah Riley Bowles’s thoughts on the program in the autumn 2004 issue of the Bulletin.
“The Man Who Owns the Ground”
Crisis Management In Action
IN THE MINUTES FOLLOWING the September 11 attack on the Pentagon, when a hijacked American Airlines jumbo jet slammed into the west side of the nation’s military headquarters, touching off a massive explosion and fire, emergency teams rushed to the scene. First to respond were Defense Department and Arlington County officials. They were
followed by federal law enforcement officers, the Washington, DC, fire department, and a multitude of other agencies.
Also on site later that evening was Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld who, as the country’s senior defense official, visited the scene to assess the rescue operation. As he examined the devastation, Rumsfeld, who is famous for his “take charge” personality, was introduced to the man actually in charge that day — or as the Pentagon liaison put it
“the man who owns the ground.”
That man was Arlington County Assistant Fire Chief James Schwartz, who, with the many other emergency responders at the scene that day, was following a standard organizational practice called incident management — a system of response used by many emergency response teams in times of crisis. On that fall morning, in the midst of enormous fear and chaos, multiple emergency teams with different jurisdictional hierarchies deferred to and accepted the command of the Arlington County assistant fire chief as the “incident commander.” Long before the horror of September 11 was imagined, these rescue workers had prepared for major disasters and were ready to respond by fitting their efforts into an incident management framework.
Incident management, which Kennedy School Professor Dutch Leonard describes as a “very effective system for creating an instant organization,” is one of several topics covered in Executive Education’s Crisis Management Program. The five-day course, says Leonard, who along with Arnold Howitt, executive director of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government, directs the program, offers senior emergency response officials as well as politicians and political appointees who would be involved in any major crisis that arose in their jurisdictions the opportunity to prepare to operate effectively in times of crisis.
Each fall, from 25 to 40 people come to the Kennedy School to take part in the program, which uses case studies to cover a range of pertinent topics, from incident management, team building, and organizational design to analyzing common errors of reasoning that can worsen in high-stress situations to recognizing and coping with novel circumstances in conditions of great urgency.
Participants learn by examining actual past crises and how they were handled or mishandled, for example: the failure in Philadelphia in 1985 of the police department and the mayor’s office to collaborate effectively in the Philadelphia MOVE confrontation; the successful outcomes in the Baltimore CSX tunnel fire in 2001 when Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley held political considerations aside and gave emergency responders full authority to take the lead; and the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, when President John F. Kennedy did more or less the opposite by putting political considerations ahead of technical considerations and succeeded in averting a potential global catastrophe.
After examining the key elements that contribute to high performance during a crisis, the course focuses attention on what leaders can do in advance of a crisis to put in place the organizational structures, skills, and conditions that favor high performance when and if a crisis does arise. “Increasingly, agencies and jurisdictions are conducting exercises to improve their preparedness,” notes Leonard. “But how should these exercises be designed? Who should participate? What should they emphasize? What kinds of scenarios should the participants in these exercises be playing out? These are the kinds of questions we are trying to get at in the part of the crisis management course that is focused on preparation.”
For additional information on the Crisis Management Program, go to www.ksg.harvard.edu/execed.