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CRISIS MANAGEMENT: “Fighting in a dictatorship” (a book by Jean-Luc Leleu)

Learning differently, thanks to History,

Exceptional book (in French so far). Not only a collection of historical lessons but also a fascinating analysis of a failed crisis management on the enemy side (…and fortunately).

From a historical point of view, this book sets a certain number of clocks on the hour.

It also resonates with our time. It allows us to recognize patterns specific to dictatorships and totalitarian states in their treatment of the truth. We can still see the limits of management by fear as well as the vulnerabilities of a pyramidal system with its supposedly infallible leader.

The in-depth sociological and psychological reading of a failed crisis management allows to see from another angle the common mistakes in crisis situations:

👉the beliefs and mental patterns that prepare for defeat:
The belief that the Allies could not act differently from what was planned in the “kriegspiels” confirms that Red Team requires non-conformist individuals, capable of thinking differently in order to envisage the improbable.
The German troops thought that the landing could not take place that day because of the weather. They will lock themselves in a mental rigidity, convinced that the landing in Normandy is a diversion, thus depriving themselves of decisive reinforcements,

👉the flood of information overwhelming:
Although a landing was indeed expected in Normandy, the German staffs were overwhelmed by the flow of often contradictory information. The impossibility of determining a general line locked the decision-makers in a state of information saturation staggering them, paralyzing them little by little in disarray,

👉the prolonged loss of initiative and the wait-and-see attitude in “Tartar Desert” mode almost made the allied landing be perceived as a “liberation” by the troops who were waiting for this fight in a wearing routine (of false alarms) where the training had no more place,

👉an organization of the command and responsibilities became bureaucratic and blurred to spare egos and pres squares.
Consequence: in addition to conformism, the inability to get out of predefined plans, the difficulty to take initiatives with fragmented information, the loss of an overall vision and of the common goal,

👉the timing of the decision: “before is too early, after is too late…”. “How to understand that a decision, logical at the time it is taken according to the available information, can ultimately prove to be counterproductive and worsen the initial situation?”. Thus, troops in reserve will unnecessarily wipe the floor a few miles from the front.

👉in the end, the Allies had the well-known luck of those who take it!

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