Swedish Defence University’s experts in demand in the corona crisis
Some of the Swedish Defence University’s experts have been asked to work in the Government’s Office for crisis management. Crisis management experts from the Centre for Societal Security (CTSS) are supporting work in response to the corona crisis.
“We know how important it is to be able to expand one’s crisis management within an organisation rapidly; so for us there was no question as to whether we should step forward and help out where it is needed,” says Associate Professor Fredrik Bynander, Head of CTSS. Bynandertook leave from the Swedish Defence University a few weeks ago to join the Government Office for crisis management, which is organised under the Ministry of Justice.
Bynander has not only extensive experience of analysing and researching crises, but also of teaching political science with a focus on crisis management, as well as leading crisis exercises with management teams in both public and private sectors. He has previously worked as Head of Strategic Analysis at the office for crisis management.
What is your assignment? What are you working on?
It’s a live situation now and we’re taking action where it’s needed. I’m tasked with supporting strategic work in the slightly longer term, but the time axis is compressed in situations like this, so some issues relate to problems that are just around the corner.
What are the roles of your employees?
They are supporting both external surveillance and ongoing analytical work. CTSS’s systems expertise comes in handy when collaboration is as broad-based as it is right now. Everyone’s working flat out, but still looking enthusiastic.
Is this crisis any different from others you have experienced or studied?
I’ve never seen such a compact level of uncertainty months into an incident. No established models seem to be providing us with the key to the basic problems, and consequences arise every hour. This situation will fundamentally change our society.
This crisis is affecting everyone in the whole of society – what is your advice to us?
Be patient, this is going to take time. Have faith that the economy will be able to restart once we have made our way through the pandemic phases. If you have any skills that are useful in health care or other parts of the community effort – respond to the calls or add your name to the lists that are circulating as part of society’s response to the crisis.
What advice can you give to all those people currently working in various kinds of crisis groups?
Use staff methodology; bring in competence if it’s not already there. This is going to take months, so conserve human resources. Make sure you let the outside world know how you are thinking and what you are doing – isolated acts of heroism can do more harm than good. If you don’t tell people what you’re doing, coordination problems can arise and clash with what others are doing.
Take a look at the material about leadership in times of crisis that was produced by The Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) in collaboration with, among others, we at the Swedish Defence University. You can find this on ANZSOG’s website.
About the government’s crisis organisation
The Secretary of State to the Minister for Home Affairs is leading the government’s crisis management response. The Secretary of State is assisted by a special senior official and an office for crisis management. This office works to develop, coordinate and follow up on the Government Office’s crisis management. The senior official’s responsibility also includes ensuring that the Government Office makes the necessary preparations for crisis management work. This may include raising awareness at an early stage of a situation that might develop into a crisis, or carrying out training and exercises to enhance crisis management capacity in general. The Government Office for crisis management has 24-hour external surveillance, monitoring the course of events both domestically and internationally. The office must be able to raise the alarm, produce compilations of status information, and provide a picture of how all individual events combine to affect society. After a crisis, the office must be able to follow up and evaluate the work carried out.
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