Mastering crises and emergencies

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A company must be able to rely on having a crew that provides everything it needs to cope professionally with emergencies or crises. Daniel Schlup does that at Swiss Federal Railways SBB with a motivated team. When he asked himself how he could efficiently train the many emergency and crisis team leaders as well as all the employees in these teams, he came across GemaSim.

GemaSim is a computer simulation in which four trainees pilot a spaceship and complete challenging missions in space. However, the focus of the learning is not on technical skills. The focus is entirely on the goal-oriented behavior of staff leaders and team players in the staffs. It was a great pleasure for me to show the SBB managers in a three-day course the training possibilities that GemaSim has to offer. They were reinforced with an additional enabler in Daniel Schlup's team. Because the whole crew was PCM (Process Communication Model) trained and thus well equipped to keep communication successful even under heavy stress. The combination of these two training approaches, PCM and GemaSim, turned the training of his crew into a real power training.

Training concepts for emergency and crisis organizations are a special challenge. After the financial crisis and at the latest during the pandemic, many companies had to deal with the question of what is the best way to lead and cooperate in such extraordinary situations. So it is not surprising that SBB started to look around at the aviation industry. The leadership concepts, as well as the aspects of cooperation under difficult conditions, have been consistently developed in aviation since the 1980s. In this context, the cockpit serves as both a focal point and a metaphor. Indeed, much of what has proven effective in this intimate leadership environment can be transferred to the staff work of emergency and crisis organizations. When it comes to the challenging organizational and personnel elements of leadership support for large companies, aviation can only help symbolically. Bridges, on the other hand, can be easily built without sacrifice in the domains of interpersonal skills, the inner attitude and mindset of superiors, and the stringent application of the principles of a structured approach.

As the former head of the crisis organization of Swissair and as a captain, I came across GemaSim during the development of training concepts for crisis and emergency organizations. For many years the tool has proven itself in blue light organizations. It saves the trainees from inefficient frontal teaching. The simulation, which engages them fully from the first second, gives them the opportunity to learn lessons from personal experiences. A proven successful learning approach that not only leaves a mark, but is also fun.

It was no coincidence that Daniel Schlup's team had enjoyed the basic PCM (Process Communication Model) training before the GemaSim training. Successful communication within the staffs is too important for him. PCM not only reveals a person's individual strengths in a personality profile, but also uncovers its predictable dysfunctionality under stress. This training in communication, reflection and self-leadership is an incredible enabler for members of crisis organizations.

As a certified PCM trainer, I was able to guide each and every one of the trainees in an individual and personal way. This was helpful because the challenges of leadership and collaboration in an emergency or crisis manifest themselves completely differently for each person. In order for everyone involved to be a valuable resource with its individuality, even in the stress of a crisis, it is important not only to address everyone individually, but also to use the character strengths of everyone in the right place. A training that lumps everyone together and that only comes up with striking generalities is reminiscent of the time when the teacher in the village was still perceived as an authority.

Link to Training with GemaSim

Link to PCM Training