Lessons from crisis management: Rapid innovation

Rescue vehicle

Crisis often births innovation. The Covid-19 pandemic is not only a public health and economic crisis, but also a crisis that incubates new insights for leaders. Associate Professors Anette Mikes and Marc Ventresca reflected on the challenges involved in situations rife with technical complexity, public anxiety and political issues.

There are lessons from risk management and innovation studies for managing through high-stake crisis events. Using evidence from the Chilean Mine Rescue and the Kursk submarine rescue mission, the speakers explored how effective leaders could mobilise rapid innovation practices and give hope in the face of a harsh reality, often challenging legacy inertia cultures. 



Lessons learned from the '1% chance' rescue of 33 trapped Chilean miners, and the sinking of a Russian navy submarine which killed more than 100 mariners could help to inform responses to crises like Covid-19.

That's according to Anette Mikes, Professor of Accounting; and Marc Ventresca, Associate Professor of Strategic Management, who led a session called Crisis Management: Rapid Innovation as part of the Leading in Extraordinary Times series

Profs Mikes and Ventresca explained how the Russian crisis – which looked likely to be solved, resulted in tragedy, while the miners were saved against all odds.  

Crisis approaches for the two incidents differed, in terms of presidential leadership, communications, willingness to seek help from the international community, and the use of technology. It was recommended that for crises like Covid-19, those involved create an open, no-blame culture, resist temptation to predict how events will unfold, and balance competing priorities such as health and the economy.