Papers and Articles

Swarm Intelligence: Establishing Behavioral Norms for the Emergence of Collective Leadership

By: Eric J. McNulty, M.A.; Barry C. Dorn, M.D., M.H.P.M.; Eric Goralnick, M.D., M.S.; Richard Serino; Jennifer O. Grimes, M.D. candidate; Lisa Flynn, J.D., M.P.H.; Melanie Cheers, M.D., and Leonard J. Marcus, Ph.D.

To explicate the qualities of cooperation among leaders and their organizations during crisis, we studied the response to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Through interviews and analysis, we discovered leaders successfully overcame obstacles that typically undermine collective crisis response. Qualitative analysis revealed five guiding behavioral principles that appeared to stimulate effective inter-agency leadership collaboration in high stakes. We draw upon concepts of collective leadership and swarm intelligence to interpret our observations and translate the findings into leader practices. We focus on replicable aspects of a meta-phenomenon, where collective action was greater than the sum of its parts; we do not evaluate individual leader behavior. Our findings provide a starting point for deeper exploration of how to bolster public safety by catalyzing enhanced inter-agency leadership behavior.

Download the PDF: Swarm-Intelligence-Establishing-Behavioral-Norms

National Leadership Dialog on Cyber Security: Key Themes and Recommendations

By: Leonard J. Marcus, Ph.D; Col. (ret.) Ronald Banks.; Eric J. McNulty, M.A.; Richard Serino; and Lisa Flynn, J.D., M.P.H.

The report presents the results of a one-day symposium co-hosted by he United States Air Force Air University’s Cyber College collaborated with the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI), a joint program of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Convened at the Cambridge campus of Harvard University on August 2, 2016. The meeting built upon a two-year study into improving collaborative public-private cyber security strategy led by NPLI executive education participants, the dialogue was designed to forge new cross-sector connections and provoke fresh thinking regarding the defense of U.S. critical infrastructure from cyber-enabled malicious activity. The meeting included 47 participants: 22 from the private sector, including financial communications and technology companies; 17 from the federal government, including the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of the Treasury, Department of Justice and National Security Agency; 3 from the non-profit sector; and 5 academics.

Download the PDF: National-Leadership-Dialogue-on-Cyber-Security

Crisis Meta-Leadership Lessons from the Boston Marathon Bombing Response: The Ingenuity of Swarm Intelligence

By: Leonard J. Marcus, Ph.D; Eric M. McNulty, M.A.; Barry C. Dorn, M.D., M.H.C.M.; Eric Goralnick, M.D.

The Boston Marathon Bombings required leaders of many agencies – scattered over numerous jurisdictions and with different authorities and priorities – to rapidly respond together to an unknown and complex set of risks, decisions, and actions. This report analyzes their leadership through the event. It seeks to understand how they were able to effectively lead an operation with remarkable results. These outcomes are measured in lives saved, suspects quickly captured, public confidence maintained, and population resilience fostered. These leaders were observed to exhibit “Swarm Intelligence,” a phenomenon in which no one is in charge and yet, with all following the same principles and rules, leaders are able to accomplish more together than any one leader could have achieved separately.

Download the PDF: April 2014 Prelim Report – Dist

Meta-Leadership and National Emergency Preparedness, A Model to Build Government Connectivity

By: Leonard J. Marcus, Ph.D; Barry C. Dorn, M.D., M.H.C.M.; Joseph M. Henderson, M.P.A.

Abstract: Effective emergency preparedness and response requires leadership that can accomplish perceptive coordination and communication amongst diverse agencies and sectors. Nevertheless, operating within their specified scope of authority, preparedness leaders in characteristic bureaucratic fashion often serve to bolster the profile and import of their own organization, thereby creating a silo effect that interferes with effective systemwide planning and response. This article describes a strategy to overcome traditional silo thinking: “meta-leadership,” overarching leadership that intentionally connects the purposes and work of different organizations or organizational units. Thinking and operating beyond their immediate scope of authority, meta-leaders provide guidance, direction, and momentum across organizational lines that develop into a shared course of action and a commonality of purpose among people and agencies that are doing what may appear to be very different work. Meta-leaders are able to imaginatively and effectively leverage system assets, information, and capacities, a particularly critical function for organizations with emergency preparedness responsibilities that are constrained by ingrained bureaucratic patterns of behavior.

Download the PDF: metaleadership.biosecurity.july06

Leading in a Crisis: Six Mistakes You’re Bound to Make (Unless You Read This)

By: Leonard J. Marcus, Ph.D; Isaac Ashkenazi, M.D., M.P.A.; Barry C. Dorn, M.D., M.H.C.M.; Eric J. McNulty

Abstract: Executives increasingly find themselves caught in the role of crisis leader and manager. A simple scan of the headlines reveals many common examples: a product recall, scandal, unexpected death of an executive, sudden loss of liquidity, weather-related destruction, or a hostile takeover bid, to name but a few. Having observed hundreds of leaders in high-pressure, high-stakes situations—from earthquakes to terrorist bombings and beyond—we have identified the six most common mistakes leaders commit when confronted with a crisis and the steps to avoid them.

Download the PDF: Leading in a Crisis Six Mistakes


The CEO Can’t Afford to Panic (HBR Case Study)

By: Eric J. McNulty

Abstract: When a bomb explodes in a train station in Boston, the executive team of a financial services firm across the street is plunged into crisis mode. No one is prepared for the city’s request to use the firm’s lobby as a triage center and temporary morgue. The CEO’s instinct is to say yes, but as his team debates the consequences—liability issues, the effect on traumatized employees—he realizes just how complicated a decision it is.

Purchase the HBR case study and commentary.


Renegotiating Health Care: Resolving Conflict to Build Collaboration

By: Leonard J. Marcus, Barry C. Dorn, and Eric J. McNulty

Order this book (2nd edition available July 5, 2011).Renegotiating Health Care presents pragmatic and effective tools for understanding conflict, negotiating differences, and creating a workable balance among those who deliver, receive, administer, and oversee health care. The authors present practical methods and techniques giving all the players the knowledge and skills they need to put their work in perspective and create workable solutions