The 80% Disaster Solution?

I can't imagine anyone in the disaster industry wants their planning to only be 80% effective.  But, this has me wondering about how we plan and where much of our effort goes.   I can't help but think that 80% of our effort goes into planning and preparedness for the issues related to 20% of our communities.  I am sure these numbers are not exactly accurate, but in reading The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Success by Achieving More with Less, I believe there are some planning imbalances that go into our preparedness efforts.

Craig Fugate, Administrator of FEMA, spoke about this at the annual International Association of Emergency Managers Conference this past October.  His keynote addressed how we shouldn't consider special populations "special" in our planning efforts.  In community preparedness planning, all populations should be woven into the fabric of all disaster plans.  Appendicies and annexes related to special populations or circumstances should be re-captured into comprehensive all-hazards planning.

I wholeheartedly agree with him, but can't imagine that we are ready for this shift with our current planning models.  In a way, we use the appendicies and annexes to help ensure we cover our bases, like checklists, especially with our most vocal, critical, and sensational community members.  But even in our best planning, I can't say we have gotten to a 100% solution.

So here is my my case...what if we:

  • Shift to a comprehensive planning model not just for all-hazards, but for all populations?
  • Aim to achieve only 80% success because we know we will achieve 100% in the end?
  • Change our planning mindset to tackle what we can now and cover the rest later?

Will doing these things help us break down our most important issues and avoid being distracted by sensational issues?  Will our plans be more effective and reflective of what we are trying to achieve?

What do you think?