Lesson 4 Governance of an Exercise Program

New Vocabulary for this lesson:

  • Governance

What is Governance?  It refers to how an exercise program is run and controlled. It sets the processes that define expectations, verify performance, and is a mechanism to provide accountability.

As discussed in the previous lesson, your organization has responsibilities for developing an exercise program.  It’s also responsible for governance of this program. You will learn more about governance in a more in-depth course, but as a participant in an exercise program, we wanted you to have an awareness of the challenge that exercise program managers face.  Just take a look below at the range of duties involved in managing an exercise program, and think of the skills required:

  • Program management (nothing happens in a vacuum!)
  • Develop a project management timeline (what and when)
  • Establish milestones (how, what and when)
  • Identify your planning team (who)
  • Schedule planning conferences and meetings (so all are in the loop!)
  • Budgeting (you can never escape finances!)
  • Staffing resources (you can’t run an exercise by yourself!)
  • Funding allocation (you aren’t the only one wanting funding!)
  • Exercise planning (it doesn’t happen by magic!)
  • Exercise conduct (OK, it’s finally action day!)
  • Exercise evaluation (did the exercise meet its objectives?)
  • Reporting (here’s what happened and what we learned)
  • Improvement tracking (here’s the tweaking we need to do!)
  • Expenditure tracking (here’s how we spent the money!)

This is quite a range of duties, isn’t it?  How these duties are managed in an exercise program leads us into the concept of governance.

Governance of your organization’s exercise program includes these responsibilities:

  • Develop the exercise program framework, guidelines, recommended practices, templates and scenarios, etc.
  • Support stakeholders in the development of their exercise programs and major exercise activities. 
  • Support the development of exercise programs and major exercise activities. 
  • Coordinate major discussion-based and/or operations-based exercises annually in conjunction with stakeholders.
  • Establish exercise program priorities based on an all hazards approach. 
  • Establish an exercise program to make sure that the various joint emergency operations centres, staff, and their linkages with other organizations are adequately prepared.
  • Coordinate exercises for senior officials and operational committees.
  • If you are a province or territory, coordinate requests for funding for exercises under the Joint Emergency Preparedness Program (JEPP).
  • Obtain grants/funding, as needed.
  • Identify roles and responsibilities for program development.
  • Design, develop, implement, and evaluate exercises.
  • Track improvements.
  • Monitor whether the exercises conducted are consistent with the national framework.
  • Designate a clearinghouse for all exercises conducted within your area of responsibility.
  • Provide the plans, procedures, and personnel to support the design, development, support, control, and evaluation of exercises.
  • Provide a Corrective Action Plan (CAP)/Improvement Plan (IP) that is based on the recommendations made in the After Action Report (AAR) that is issued after an exercise is completed.

The Dream Team   

Let’s introduce you now to the ideal skill sets needed to develop, facilitate, and control an exercise.  The challenges faced by an exercise program manager are varied and numerous.  We’ve discussed the importance of involving the right mix of stakeholders in every part of your exercise program.  Your own experience may give you some insight into the range of obstacles, both political as well as logistical, that you will encounter.

So what skill sets would a dream exercise program team bring to the table?  Here are a few suggestions from lessons learned from previous exercises.  You may have a few more, and we hope that you will share them with us.

  • Negotiator
  • Has a sense of humour
  • Good communicator
  • Flexible
  • Ability to work in a stressful situation
  • Decisive
  • Tactful
  • Inclusive
  • Analytical thinker
  • Facilitator
  • Leader
  • Thick skinned
  • Thinks outside the box
  • Good project planner
  • Gets things done
  • Organized
  • Good net-worker
  • Politically savvy

We've shown you a basic list above, which in turn can be turned into categories of skills.  Take a look below….

Essential Skills - These are the personal skills needed for the foundation that your team needs:

1. Ability to Communicate

  • Express oneself effectively in both individual and group settings.
  • Communicate plans and activities in a way that supports strategies for employee involvement.
  • Actively listen to others.
  • Express written ideas clearly.
  • Comprehend written material with little or no help.

2. Ability to Work as Part of a Team

  • Use appropriate interpersonal style to guide team members towards the goal.
  • Allocate decision making and other responsibilities to the appropriate individuals.
  • Organize resources to complete tasks with maximum efficiency.

3. Creative Problem Solving Ability

  • Identify and collect information relevant to the problem.
  • Use brainstorming techniques to create a variety of choices.
  • Select the best course of action by identifying all the alternatives and then making a logical assumption.

4. Ability to Get Along With Others

  • Treat others with respect, trust, and dignity.
  • Work well with others by being considerate of the needs and feelings of each individual.
  • Promote a productive atmosphere by valuing individuals and their contributions.
  • Work effectively with those inside and outside the organization.
  • Gather and analyze stakeholder feedback to assist in decision making.

5. Ability to Manage Stakeholder Relationships

  • Work effectively with those inside and outside the organization.
  • Gather and analyze stakeholder feedback to assist in decision making.

6. Ability to be Self-Directed

  • Establish goals, work to be completed, timelines, and budgets with little or no motivation from superiors.
  • Put together and lead teams to achieve established goals within deadlines.

7. Is Flexible

  • Willing to change to meet organizational needs.
  • Challenge established ways of doing things, and make hard, but correct decisions.
  • Adapt to stressful situations.

8. Builder of Appropriate Relationships

  • Network with peers and associates.
  • Build constructive and supportive relationships.

9. Has a Professional Attitude

  • Set the example.
  • Stay current in terms of professional development.
  • Contribute to and promote the development of an emergency exercise program through active participation in the organization.

10. Is Fiscally Responsible

  • Do not waste resources.
  • Look for methods to improve processes.

Leadership Skills - These are the special skills that separate leaders from bosses, and that are ideal characteristics for the management of an exercise program.

11. Ability to Lead

  • Display attributes that make people glad to follow.
  • Provide a feeling of trust.
  • Build morale when the going gets tough.

12. Ability to Set Goals

  • Apply effort to program exercises in areas needing the most improvement.
  • Create and set goals.
  • Gain commitment by influencing team to set objectives and agree to how the objectives will be met.

13. Ability to Create and Lead Teams

  • Develop high-performance exercise program teams by establishing a spirit of cooperation for achieving goals.

14. Ability to Assess Situations Quickly and Accurately

  • Take charge when the situation demands it.
  • Make the right things happen on time.

15. Ability to Look for Win-Win Resolutions in Conflicts

  • Effectively handle disagreements and conflicts.
  • Settle disputes by focusing on solving the problems, without offending egos.
  • Provide support and expertise to others with respect to managing people.

16. Ability to be a Good Project Manager

  • Track critical steps in projects to ensure they are completed on time.
  • Identify and react to outside events and pressures that might influence or alter the exercise program goals.
  • Establish a course-of-action for exercises to meet a specific need or set of needs.
  • Identify, evaluate, and put in place the procedures for current and future exercises.

17. Ability to Engage All Participants

  • Develop ownership by including participants in the exercise program decision making and planning process.
  • Develop procedures to help the exercise program team and participants to achieve the objectives of the planned exercises.

18.  Ability to Coach and Mentor

  • Recognize that learning happens at every exercise (in other words, treat mistakes as a learning event).
  • Provide performance feedback, coaching, and career development to teams and individuals to increase the probability they will succeed.

Professional skills are needed for a successful emergency management exercise program team. These are the technical skills and experience needed to be effective in the field of emergency management exercises.

19. Ability to Keep abreast of new developments

  • React in a positive manner to key developments in areas of expertise that may have an effect on emergency management exercises.
  • Be able to link new technology and developments to the current way of working and find ways to incorporate these into the exercise program.
  • Be politically astute.

20. Ability to have and maintain Technical Competency

  • Understand the emergency management environment.
  • Understand risk management and how to prepare a needs assessment.
  • Understand how to build an exercise program and the five phases of an exercise.
  • Complete tasks according to established standards.
  • Understand and adhere to rules, regulations, and code of ethics.

You’ll learn more about successfully managing an exercise program as you continue your exercise training program and experience. 




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