Imagine your puppy escapes from the house. Kind of frightening once you realize it’s disappeared. It has no clue where it is and has almost no defenses with which to take care of itself. Now imagine that instead of your puppy it’s your elderly Mom who has Alzheimer’s. Obviously you’re not going to go around the neighborhood and put up posters. So what do you do?
The phone rang late yesterday afternoon and it was something we have here in town that uses reverse 911 technology to call every phone in town and deliver emergency messages. It’s called a Code Red alert and it was issued because an 83-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s Disease was missing. Fortunately she was found a short time later and another call went out canceling the alert and advising everyone she was safe.
This is crowdsourcing at its finest. In fact, it was the second time in three weeks the town had used the system – a missing 74-year-old woman was found after calls from residents who received the alert. The technology helped the community do things more efficiently – alert one another to a problem – and to share the information that will solve the problem.
Compare that with many businesses. Information is kept in silos. People don’t rely on one another to solve problems. In a sense, it’s the equivalent of the accounting department spotting the missing woman in marketing and keeping it to themselves until a review was held to discuss all the people wandering the halls.
Businesses need to issue Code Red alerts from time to time. They need to let everyone know there is a critical issue and draw on the combined resources of the community to solve that problem. Telling the department heads and expecting them to communicate it down to the staff doesn’t always work – it’s the proverbial game of telephone. Messages get garbled. Critical information gets withheld.
Obviously I don’t think it’s appropriate to do this with every issue just as the Code Red system isn’t used for missing puppies. But there are times when we need the combined resources of the business focused as one on a specific, critical task.
What do you think? Can you recall a situation where a Code Red should have been issued in your place?