Lately I’ve gotten into watching these reality consulting shows like Bar Rescue and Restaurant: Impossible. Both of these shows use a similar model, providing a prolific expert (Bar Rescue’s Jon Taffer and Restaurant: Impossible’s Robert Irvine) in their respective fields to aid a failing business. These consultants are supported by a team of specialists and often a construction crew to remodel the business. Sometimes it’s a just a few tweaks of the menu that’s needed, other times it’s a whole new way of thinking on the part of owners, management, and employees. These are some of the best shows out there displaying conceptually some of the things consultants can do, albeit in a compressed and slightly dramatic mode.
That said, as many of my readers know, I work as an emergency management and homeland security consultant. I’ve worked in the ranks of emergency management and public safety now for nearly 19 years. Through this time, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a multitude of emergency management professionals at many levels; including counties and local jurisdictions and corporations. These emergency managers, I’ve found, often play the part of a consultant.
While other department heads in county and local governments or corporations often make recommendations to CEOs (in this case Chief Elected Officials or Chief Executive Officers) these usually only impact their own department or have minimal impact on other parts of the organization. Emergency managers make recommendations that often times impact the entire jurisdiction or organization – be they recommendations on mitigation, preparedness, recovery – and especially response. Sometimes, unfortunately, the emergency manager doesn’t report to the CEO on a daily basis – which I think is a major mistake. While others may be primarily concerned with saving their own operations in the event of disaster, the emergency manager’s goal is to preserve as much of the jurisdiction or organization as possible – with the priorities being life safety, incident stabilization, and property conservation. These three tenants, preached mostly in Incident Command System courses, are applicable to both government and the private sector. In both sectors, these priorities lead us logically to business continuity, ensuring that we minimize our losses and are able to continue operations.
As the profession of the emergency manager continues to evolve, including myriad training opportunities, education up to and including Ph.Ds., and professional certifications, the emergency manager is viewed more and more as a specialist and subject matter expert. Emergency managers are expected to provide expert advice and guidance. The emergency manager needs to stay current and up to date with the profession; not that the ‘science’ of emergency management changes much, but there are certainly new best practices, trends, and legal and regulatory requirements that need to be kept up on. Whether an organization calls upon the emergency manager as an employee or brings in an actual consultant, this person is providing expert recommendations that impact the jurisdiction or organization as an enterprise system, not just a name or a spot on a map. Just like in Bar Rescue or Restaurant: Impossible, the emergency manager may make recommendations that some people don’t like; but they called upon the emergency manager for their expertise. The emergency manager is the consultant that can save your organization!