Managing The Next Crisis: Twelve Principles For Dealing With Viral Uncertainty

IOn October 7, 2021, the IBM Center for the Business of Government released a report, titled Managing the Next Crisis: Twelve Principles for Dealing with Viral Uncertainty. It provides a series of guidelines to help mitigate future disasters including hurricanes, wildfires, massive cyberattacks and the inevitable deaths resulting from neglected infrastructure. It can be found at this link: 


n late October, the IBM Center for the Business of Government hosted an insightful virtual discussion of a report that takes a deep look at how governments can learn lessons from COVID to manage well and emerge stronger and more resilient. The session featured authors of the IBM Center report, Managing The Next Crisis: Twelve Principles For Dealing With Viral Uncertainty, by Katherine Barrett, Richard Greene, and Don Kettl. Dustin Brown, Deputy Assistant Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget, provided insights from a government perspective while Tim Paydos, General Manager for IBM’s Global Government Industry, contributed to the conversation using a global lens.

You can find the webinar here:

Here are the 12 principles upon which the report is based:

1. Local governments inevitably sit on the frontlines in responding to a crisis, but the federal government plays a critical role in coordinating responses.

2. The federal government can help lead the charge against a widespread crisis, but its primary responsibility often involves obtaining buy-in from and coordinating the efforts of states, counties and cities.

3. Data is key to understanding a problem well enough to develop a solution.

4. Solutions to many major crises, require assets like hoses, sandbags, masks and vaccines. Central coordination for their procurement prevents the various players involved from competing against one another, which can lead to higher prices and unnecessary shortages. 

5. The nation must develop better means for growing the next generation of experts in multiple fields who can serve in times of need.
6. Artificial intelligence can help governments to better understand problems and form solutions. 

7. Risk management can help weigh the odds and spell out plans for future calamities. 

8. When addressing a major crisis, organizing all the participants trying to respond is necessary.

9. When many people face great risk, they must trust those who lead response and recovery—or those interventions are severely impeded. 

10. States and localities often help find solutions by trying a variety of different approaches to solving a problem. But ignoring the lessons learned across the states makes their experiments less productive. 

11. The pandemic revealed that without addressing social and economic inequities, disasters will harm huge segments of the population disproportionately—and that, in turn, can unravel the fabric of society. 

12. Holding institutions and individuals accountable helps ensure responsible actions. This requires knowing exactly how to define and measure success.