I am hoping that all of you were reading this newsletter are enjoying the spring weather of the kind that we're having in Atlanta - but without the pervasive pollen that we have to deal with here. It is been a busy March & April for us, as there is a great deal of sensitivity, given some of the events of mass violence that we have witnessed in recent months.
As discussed in our last newsletter, it is always difficult to maintain the most reasonable perspective and the most appropriate level of concern when danger strikes. Last month, I traveled through Belgium and northern France on a vacation, and was also able to pay a visit to my friends and colleagues at the Association of European Threat Assessment Conference in Bruges.
This trip provoked some interesting discussions about the difference between "feeling safe" and "being safe" - which are not one and the same. For example, while I do not have the statistics in front of me, I am quite certain that my greatest danger on that journey existed, as usual, not from terrorists on the Brussels Metro, but more likely, while I was driving on I-85 on my way to the Atlanta airport. But the effect of those terrorist attacks on tourism was striking. The streets of Paris felt almost deserted, compared to the buzz of activity one typically would experience in late April.
As noted in our last newsletter, we always must be careful to not make quick decisions that primarily serve to temporarily relieve our anxiety, but which in some cases may only lead to greater dangers in the long term, and this is a theme that I would like to continue with in this newsletter.
To Go Slow In A Hurry
Wyatt Earp, the famous Western lawman of the late 1800s, was once reported to have stated, "
Fast is fine, but accuracy is fatal. You must learn to be slow in a hurry." In the middle of a crises or when faced with any kind of situation that represents a potential danger, it is normal and natural human behavior to react quickly, sometimes in a instinctual, "default" manner that appears at the time to offer the best option to deal with the danger - and to help us "feel" safe.
Whenever we are involved in situations involving a high-risk situation, we often find that the organization (or someone within the organization), has already engaged in an action that appeared on the surface to represent a sound and logical response, but may actually have escalated the risk. Typically, it is a premature action that is taken in light of
1) an insufficient understanding of the situation or 2) an over-reaction that is disproportional to the potential danger or 3) a "default", generic response that does not take into account the consequences.
If there is a mantra that we may repeat quite frequently in our business, it is to "slow it down" if it all possible. This is not always easy, as this typically occurs under a great deal of pressure to respond quickly, often with some very real limitations in terms of available time and resources. However, there may exist opportunities to bring the situation under control, to provide us with the time to better assess the dynamics of the situation, to make better decisions, and even more importantly, to prevent us from making disastrous ones from which there is no return.
Sometimes, we may have to address the most immediate safety issues, and slow down the process enough to gather the necessary information before we can come to a more complete understanding that will get us to the ultimate resolution. A second mantra that you will frequently hear from us is "good management is dependent on good assessment."
Our threat assessment consultations rarely involve a simple and quick assessment-to-response process, in which we meet with the team, come to a decision, engage in a single action plan, and then walk away. As implied above, we make our decisions very carefully, typically involving a step-by-step process, in which each step advises the next. Everything does not have to happen all at once.
As we have discussed in past newsletter articles on the subject of "high-risk" terminations, we often benefit for example, if we can initiate a kind of "time out" process, as opposed to moving forward too quickly with an exiting process that we are no adequately prepared for. For example, placing the individual on a paid leave status in a safe and controlled manner gives us (and the employee) time to more fully assess the situation and come to better decisions. It allows for time to de-escalate if possible and to better plan the best strategy before moving forward.
If there is one more mantra that you will hear from us frequently, it is, "It's all about the process." A guiding principle throughout this process is to not over-respond and create a greater risk. While decisions may have to be made quickly, careful planning is critical. Time spent in information gathering and assessment, in order to formulate a safe plan of approach, is generally time well spent.