During the Disaster It's Not Time to Exchange Business Cards

"what does that really mean?"

Simply put; form institutional relationships ahead of disasters, to be prepared to leverage partnerships when disaster does strike.


You want to continually make investments within the preparedness pillar, the rewards will be realized within the response pillar.


Creating strong relationships with partners and stakeholders prior to a disaster, allows all to respond quickly and efficiently, enhancing your capacity and capability to respond to disasters. The augmentation that partners and stakeholders bring through the planning and prevention pillars are invaluable and assist in addressing gaps during the response and recovery.


So the question is; are you truly building relationships, or are you just connecting with those who you have shared interests or like thinkers. Those connections may not lead to collaboration and coordination relationships to augment your capacities and capabilities.


There is no single linear route to achieve valuable collaborative relationships, the need is to institutionalize those relationships through integrated participation in all aspects of your emergency management program. How is that accomplished.

  • informality is the rule;

  • freedom to meet and network;

  • people can participate “not in their official capacity” but their participation provides meaning and legitimacy to the relationship

  • take risks, work with people they don’t know or wouldn’t have known you were interested;

  • enable the ability to fail, high tolerance for risk.



The need is to develop a ‘collaborative sphere’, without an independent, open collaborative space, the connection can become static or polarized. Collaboration will open the potential for future dialogue and cooperation, while attracting people who want to do something to help, they are highly motivated. Capitalize on that motivation.


We are not as connected as we think, when we make a decision to connect, we form informal cooperatives. The space between informal cooperatives and institutional relationships is the collaborative sphere. The collaborative sphere attracts participation and can lead to collective action, experiential learning, projects which can lead to new relationships to enhance your capability and capacity.


How many institutional relationships do you have, open your cellular phone contact list, how many contacts do you have, I have 923. How many of those are family and friends, how many are simply a point of contact, how many are really available 24/7/365 to respond and enhance your capabilities and capacities? Your challenge, over the next week, add one institutionalized relationship – not just a point of contact – but into your ‘collaborative sphere’.


Acknowledgment to Heather Blanchard, American University of Paris.what does that really mean?

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