Houston, we ‘ve got a problem: An introduction to Crisis Management — pt. 1

The top-3 threats to humanity according to Elon Musk.

2020 has been unprecedented for modern humanity. Covid-19 pandemic has been one of the most — if not the most — disruptive events worldwide, heavily affecting all aspects of personal, interpersonal and collective experience, for more than a year now. If there’s something there to be observed and unanimously accepted, that is the imperative, urgent and binding nature of Change.

Speaking of change in a crisis era, it’s important to highlight its multifaceted nature. What we all witness here is a vast change in the ways Industry, Economy, Politics and Society are required to operate, in order to bear up with the ever-developing demands. Corporate and institutional organizations are complex systems that tend to seek the equilibrium. Once this stability is disrupted by endogenous or extrinsic factors (crises), the system tends (or, in some cases, struggles) to restore it. It is a matter of Crisis Preparedness and Management to make this restoration smooth and painless.

A first step towards Crisis Management is the deep understanding of the habitus an organization operates within. As explained by Business & Management Studies, the relation between an organization and its habitus can be visualized as a set of concentric circles (see Graph 1 below). The central circle depicts the organization, and the outer circle outlines the international globalization environment within which the organization operates. The second circle from the center contains all the other entities that interact with the organization, such as the mass media, the government, corporate and social associates, the competitors etc. The third circle depicts all kinds of phenomena that can serve as a potential threat to the organization. In this context, we have decided to create a case study/stimulation of a crisis, in order to thoroughly understand the Crisis Management process.

Graph 1. Organization Habitus & Threats

Our first goal in this long journey was to identify which are the biggest threats globally right now as they are identified by Elon Musk. Why Elon Musk you ask? He is the richest person in the world with a Network of $168,9B and he invests all of his money to revolutionize transportation both on Earth, through electric car maker Tesla — and in space, via rocket producer SpaceX. He is the owner and CEO of both of those companies and he has conducted a number of researches through the years. There is even a website where you can find all his “predictions” for the future. Therefore, it is very obvious that what he has to say is considered to be of high importance by many.

After extensive research we pinned it down to 3 Major Threats:

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence seems to be the one Elon Musk is most worried about and supports that it is more dangerous than nuclear weapons. AI is already learning how to program and reprogram itself better than the humans who built it and as he says “It is vastly smarter than any human on Earth and ultimately smarter than all humans on Earth combined”. The problem can even be found on our most used platforms. “Between Facebook, Google and Amazon — and arguably Apple, but they seem to care about privacy — they have more information about you than you can remember,” Musk has explained.

Following right after that, Climate Change is the next big threat Musk is worried about and the reason why he is passionate about protecting the environment. According to him the cause of the problem can be located back to the use of fossil fuels which he identifies as “the dumbest experiment in human history”. Conversely, Elon Musk promotes sustainable energy sources. What Elon Musk is actually doing to “Power the planet” is the creation of electric cars (“Our system is obliged more than ever to adopt new generating sources that are renewable so as to be capable of pulling through the renewable reality”. -Elon Musk), plus The Solar City Corporation (a subsidiary company of Tesla that specializes in the development and selling of solar panels and solar roof tiles). As for his plan, by 2022, Musk plans to build the world’s largest virtual power plant, and by 2032, he predicts that seeing regular non-solar roofs on homes will be a thing of the past and he dreams of connecting cities via hyperloop tubes.

The last threat we are going to mention is that Musk is worried that “The World’s Population is headed for collapse” which he first mentioned to a New Scientist article as “a population bomb going off by 2076”. To be more specific we are not just talking about depopulation, but about an unprecedented aging of the world’s population (as it was also concluded in The 2019 UN World Population Prospects report). Musk mentions ,”Demographics, stratified by age, will look like an upside down pyramid with many old people & fewer young”.

After presenting our findings to the well-respected hosts of the Lab, Ms. Mania Xenou and Ms. Effie Lazaridou, as well as the Head of the Lab, Dr. Betty Tsakarestou, we were prompted to conduct a stimulation of a European Parliament debate, where a representative of each team would support their theses in the form of powerful speeches. The end goal has been to collectively vote the Top-3 priority threats that an organization shall take into account on their Crisis Management Matrix.

The conversation between the representatives has been truly enlightening. Many threats were highlighted, such as Artificial Intelligence, Wars, Mental Health etc. After all members shared their thoughts, it was time to prioritize the threats via vote. The results were very interesting, since the vast majority of the representatives voted for: Mental Health, World Peace and Cyber Safety as the major threats against humanity without, of course, undermining the importance of the other issues mentioned.

In conclusion, judging from this important conversation that took place, there was only one thing for us to assume. The topic of Crisis Management is a whole new world full of interesting information and we cannot wait to learn more about it!

Part 2, to be published soon!

Who are we?

We are LoADing 2.0, a creative, 12-membered team formed for the needs of the Ad & PR Lab in the Department of Communication, Media & Culture at Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences. The current story is the first part of a series, aiming to provide details about our learning journey on Crisis Management, in the context of the respective lab we are attending, in the last semester of our Bachelor’s Degree.

Professor: Dr. Betty Tsakarestou
Project Coordinators: Mania Xenou, Effie Lazaridou
Team: Maria Drasioudi, Δήμητρα Κιοϊλόγλου, Amanda Linara, Zelia Makri, Athina Manolaki, Ιριάνα Νίκα, Giannis Papalambrou, Αφροδίτη Πουχτού, Panagiotis Theofanopoulos, Christina Tsakona, Theodora Fokaeos, Angelika Hazizi

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