What My Consulting Work Taught Me About Hurricane Survival

by Gen Guanci, Consultant, MEd, RN-BC, CCRN-K 

I live in southwest Florida in a small village that took a direct hit from Irma. Having been through a few hurricanes in the past, I knew it was very important to be prepared in June, the beginning of the season.

No, my consulting work is not disaster preparedness; however, many of the lessons I mentor organization on did help me weather Hurricane Irma. In my work, I am constantly coaching and mentoring organizations, teams, and individuals on the importance of structures and processes. I tell them that with good structures and process you will have good outcomes. Little did I know that that mantra, and the work I do as a consultant, would be what helped me deal with Hurricane Irma.

With this in mind, I created my STRUCTURES (aka plan). I got my hurricane checklist, prepared my readiness box, made my plan A, and B and C, should I need them, and crafted a list of last-minute things to do.

Structure alone is not good enough. As Irma moved closer, I began to operationalize my structure. In other words, I used my PROCESSES. I filled my car with gas, got cash from the ATM, gathered important papers in a waterproof container, made sure my batteries were still working, and began battening down the house. I made arrangements to put Plan A into play…but then that fell apart! AGILITY enabled me to move to Plan B without any major change in my processes. Irma had other plans for Southwest Florida, though, so soon it was obvious that Plan B would also fall apart when mandatory evacuations were issued. Because I had taken time to plan and strategically think things through long before hurricane season began, and thought about multiple structures, I was able to swiftly move on to Plan C.

Plan C landed me in an evacuation shelter. I was lucky, as I was in a small classroom with only 22 people. We quickly began to build RELATIONSHIPS. This got us through and enabled us to make decision for the greater good of our room or hurricane family. We came together as a team and used many of the principles of shared governance that I mentor organizations on. We SHARED our resources, we made decisions for the GREATER GOOD of the entire “family,” and we made decisions together using CONSENSUS methodology.

We encouraged each other to clearly ARTICULATE EXPECTATIONS and to be responsible for our OWN ACTIONS. We SUPPORTED each other, we ENCOURAGED each other we RECOGNIZED teamwork as well as individual actions. Each of us was EMPOWERED to ask for what we needed and say how we were feeling.

There is no doubt that my knowledge related to four things: 1) my consulting work with organizations, teams, and individuals related to structures, processes; 2) the elements of CHCM’s workshop, Leading an Empowered Organization, including articulating expectations; 3) my shared governance work including the principles of decisions made for the greater good as well as how to make decisions by consensus, and most importantly, 4) how critical relationships are in everything we do, helped me achieve my desired OUTCOME: coming out the other side of Irma alive and well.