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Topics: Communications Management
What are your best advice for communication in a high risk context
Dear Colleagues,

I am presently in Iraq where Covid-19 is an issue. Confinement is ongoing since March 14 and some people do not respect confinement for the following reasons (I identified those directly, then there might be others):
- Fear to lose livelihoods;
- Importance of local traditions, such a attending funerals;
- Fear of social dishonour: people refuse to be tested or identified if sick as they may be ostracized by the society;
- Religious belief: The virus is a divine punishment and death is at divine will so there is no need to take precautions and it is alright to expose the family to the virus;
- Distrust in local authorities: Underlying conflicts prevent authorities to communicate transparently on what is going on;
- Belief the virus is a creation from "USA and the Zionist:" some Facebook profile and shady YouTubers convey this message; and people believe they will be infected anyway.

Messages from WHO and the MoH remain very limited here because 1) the message is not adapted to the audience; 2) the message does not reach them; 3) hidden agenda; 4) no project management.

Anyone here having experience in such conditions (not necessarily health-related)? Where should we start to design a proper communication strategy and plan? What traps should we avoid? What issues did you meet?

Thanks for your contributions

Regards,
Lise
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Hi Lise,

It will be a hard task to pass the message, this kind of messages should be direct, clear, based on cases that the audience know and sometimes we must apply the concept of messages that shock or override their fears for greater fear. I am not a fan of the last type of messages but in your case you don't have time to educate people or transform their cultural habits.
To be sincere years ago in the army I was used to communicate in high risk environments, but we have to take in consideration that all audience is prepared, trained and was educated during months to listen messages in high risk environments.

Your context is harder, you have several message blockers. You have to deal with poor education, misinformation, and big important characteristic the persons culture.

So in my perspective you should analyze:
1 - The cultural issues, be prepared for them, think in alternatives to attend their needs, include this in your communication plan. Do make the mistake of make any kind of comparative with the western part of world
2 - Identify the most influential stakeholders in that communities also add to you plan, you will need their help, verify if they are effective communicators. ( Empathy, Confidence,etc...)
3 - Identify and list the existing means of communication, the most effective or those that reach a larger audience.
4 - You should not attack their beliefs, choose a different path where the message is adapted to that beliefs because you have no time to deconstruct such believes nor time. So you should identify the kind of messages that you want to pass, list some examples in your communication plan, the messages should be coherent across the country and culture.
5 - include in your communication plan the use of Images or videos about the disease or very sick people to pass the message as a possible method of communication.( shocking communication).
6 - Should find supporters in the community among the identified influence Stakeholders , someone in which they trust to help you transmit the message according their level of interest and influence.
7 - Identify all spoken languages in that country and be prepared to pass the message in their native language. You should inspire trust by using their native language and ways.

This is only a few advice's that I can give you, is not complete but is a good starting point. But I believe that even that communication process is a success and the population generally accepts it, there will always be radical groups that will ignore it and in the end the state will have to take measures, such as a state of emergency depending on the severity of the situation.
The big problem here is contamination.

Good luck Lise will need it, but never give up.

Alexandre.
Is not a matter of communication plan. It is a matter of enterprise architecture. The organization is a open and adaptable system that must be ready to react and to anticipate unexpected and unplanned situations. This situation is not new. We lived this before in health related and non-health related condition. So, as you know, everything you need to know about communication is inside the Shannon´s theory of communications. Basically you have a sender, a receiver and a mean. The whole enterprise architecture (which is composed by business/application/technology/security/information layers) must be ready to support the model. Business layer is the most important because is the layer that interacts with the environment and is the layer which will drive the definition of the others.
...
1 reply by Alexandre Costa
Mar 28, 2020 8:23 AM
Alexandre Costa
...
Sergio,

Unless i am making a wrong reading of the problem this is not a problem related with the business layer , but with the social layer of the country as a whole. The message for confinement must be ordered or advised by the state governments, the only thing that the companies can do is provide the resources to allow remote work and reinforce the messages to stay at home, and provide clear communication about the real dangers. No matter what the business layer advises, will not stick if it is not supported by the governments.
Now you raised me a doubt , if her doubt is about the company where she works or to the all country, for a moment i stayed with the impression that her project was clarify the country about the dangers of covid-19 and the benefits of confinement, if such is the case communication assumes major importance and the country authorities have a important role on that, otherwise you are right in your considerations.
Hi Lise,

If we explore the culture of Iraq through the lens of the Hofstede 6-D Model©, we can get a good overview of the deep drivers of its culture relative to other world cultures.

POWER DISTANCE
Iraq scores high on this dimension (score of 95) which means that people accept a hierarchical order in which everybody has a place and which needs no further justification.

Action: This is why your message has to come from a very senior person.

INDIVIDUALISM
Iraq, with a score of 30 is considered a collectivist society. This is manifest in a close long-term commitment to the member ‘group’, be that a family, extended family, or extended relationships. Loyalty in a collectivist culture is paramount, and over-rides most other societal rules and regulations.

Action: The society fosters strong relationships where everyone takes responsibility for fellow members of their group. Highlight that they have to take responsibility for their family, parents, brothers and sisters, children, spouse.

MASCULINITY
Iraq scores 70 on this dimension and is thus a Masculine society. In Masculine countries people “live in order to work”, managers are expected to be decisive and assertive, the emphasis is on equity, competition and performance and conflicts are resolved by fighting them out.

Action: The message has to come from a senior male leader.

UNCERTAINTY AVOIDANCE
Iraq scores 85 on this dimension and thus has a high preference for avoiding uncertainty.

Action: That is the reason the attend funerals and maintain rigid codes of belief and behavior and are intolerant of unorthodox behavior and ideas. You have to show them real examples that COVID-19 infected 607,965 people all around the word and killed 28,125 people already. In Iraq Confirmed: 458 Deaths: 40 Recovered: 122 Active: 296

Source: https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/op...423467b48e9ecf6

LONG TERM ORIENTATION
Iraq’s low score of 25 reveals that it has a normative culture. People in such societies have a strong concern with establishing the absolute Truth; they are normative in their thinking.

Action: They exhibit great respect for traditions, a relatively small propensity to save for the future, and a focus on achieving quick results. That is why it is so difficult to convince them. A senior male leader has to convince people that it is part of the tradition that people care each other.

INDULGENCE
The very low score of 17 in this dimensions means that Iraqi society is one of Restraint. Societies with a low score in this dimension have a tendency to cynicism and pessimism. Also, in contrast to Indulgent societies, Restrained societies do not put much emphasis on leisure time and control the gratification of their desires.

Action: People with this orientation have the perception that their actions are Restrained by social norms and feel that indulging themselves is somewhat wrong.

COUNTRY COMPARISON: https://www.hofstede-insights.com/country-...turkey,the-usa/
...
2 replies by Jose Harris and Lise GOIN FASKI
Mar 30, 2020 11:46 PM
Lise GOIN FASKI
...
Dear Laszlo,

Thank you for this important reminder. It is always a great indicator to consider. I will consider it into the plan despite Geert Hofstede's values ranking is not always accurate.

Regards,
Lise
Apr 03, 2020 8:28 PM
Jose Harris
...
Laszlo,
As you highlight under UNCERTAINTY AVOIDANCE, there is a lack of tolerance in the society towards unorthodox behavior -- not attending funerals in this circumstance. Would sharing numbers of infected by attending funerals be sufficient, at least in some cases, to encourage the masculine senior person to prohibit those in his family or lineage from attending funerals? Would tapping into this same trait encourage the masculine senior person to have his family or lineage get medical treatment or tests?
Mar 28, 2020 7:15 AM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
Is not a matter of communication plan. It is a matter of enterprise architecture. The organization is a open and adaptable system that must be ready to react and to anticipate unexpected and unplanned situations. This situation is not new. We lived this before in health related and non-health related condition. So, as you know, everything you need to know about communication is inside the Shannon´s theory of communications. Basically you have a sender, a receiver and a mean. The whole enterprise architecture (which is composed by business/application/technology/security/information layers) must be ready to support the model. Business layer is the most important because is the layer that interacts with the environment and is the layer which will drive the definition of the others.
Sergio,

Unless i am making a wrong reading of the problem this is not a problem related with the business layer , but with the social layer of the country as a whole. The message for confinement must be ordered or advised by the state governments, the only thing that the companies can do is provide the resources to allow remote work and reinforce the messages to stay at home, and provide clear communication about the real dangers. No matter what the business layer advises, will not stick if it is not supported by the governments.
Now you raised me a doubt , if her doubt is about the company where she works or to the all country, for a moment i stayed with the impression that her project was clarify the country about the dangers of covid-19 and the benefits of confinement, if such is the case communication assumes major importance and the country authorities have a important role on that, otherwise you are right in your considerations.
...
2 replies by Lise GOIN FASKI and Sergio Luis Conte
Mar 28, 2020 8:31 AM
Sergio Luis Conte
...
Yes, you are making a wrong reading..jejeje (sorry, I can not say that, just a bad joke). Fist thing to understand on yout comment: how business layer is defined? Take a look to the definition and you will find the answer because the business layer is critical. In that layer you will find shared values, style, strategy, structure, systems (not software only), staff policies, for example All the other layers must be aligened and created based on business layer because business layer interacts with the environment. So, the environment has changed then the whole enterprise architecture must be ready for that. Organization started projects to create solutions for business problems that happend when need of change happend due to a change into the environment. @Lise has to take into accout this. What she is asking for is about to create a solucion. Perhaps this helps to @Lise: https://www.projectmanagement.com/blog-pos...-right-solution
That´s what helped my current organization when we need to create the same than @Lise is asking for. And do not forget Shannon´s theory or communication.
Mar 28, 2020 8:38 AM
Lise GOIN FASKI
...
Hello Alexandre,

I work in the health sector and this issue is indeed much wider than the company I work for. My question applies to the entire country.

Before asking this question, I did two trainings about communication on the WHO platform. However, those trainings solely consider an educated audience. It shows here in Iraq because no one feels the WHO addresses to them. One example of it (and your comment was on point, Alexandre) is they do not speak the local language.

Sergio,

I also appreciated your comment. Yes, my question includes in a way the company. We run hospitals and we know we are absolutely not ready to face such pandemic. Consequently, communication at the community/country level has to be considered. The employees are perfectly aware of what is going on and what to do as they are educated and in contact with the Ministry of Health (MoH).

The bigger problem remains the community. Whatever has been done by WHO, the MoHand the official media is insufficient and ineffective.

Alexandre,

To go back on your comment, I will definitely dig further into it. The WHO should hire you because at no point they cover this.

Regards,
Lise
Mar 28, 2020 8:23 AM
Replying to Alexandre Costa
...
Sergio,

Unless i am making a wrong reading of the problem this is not a problem related with the business layer , but with the social layer of the country as a whole. The message for confinement must be ordered or advised by the state governments, the only thing that the companies can do is provide the resources to allow remote work and reinforce the messages to stay at home, and provide clear communication about the real dangers. No matter what the business layer advises, will not stick if it is not supported by the governments.
Now you raised me a doubt , if her doubt is about the company where she works or to the all country, for a moment i stayed with the impression that her project was clarify the country about the dangers of covid-19 and the benefits of confinement, if such is the case communication assumes major importance and the country authorities have a important role on that, otherwise you are right in your considerations.
Yes, you are making a wrong reading..jejeje (sorry, I can not say that, just a bad joke). Fist thing to understand on yout comment: how business layer is defined? Take a look to the definition and you will find the answer because the business layer is critical. In that layer you will find shared values, style, strategy, structure, systems (not software only), staff policies, for example All the other layers must be aligened and created based on business layer because business layer interacts with the environment. So, the environment has changed then the whole enterprise architecture must be ready for that. Organization started projects to create solutions for business problems that happend when need of change happend due to a change into the environment. @Lise has to take into accout this. What she is asking for is about to create a solucion. Perhaps this helps to @Lise: https://www.projectmanagement.com/blog-pos...-right-solution
That´s what helped my current organization when we need to create the same than @Lise is asking for. And do not forget Shannon´s theory or communication.
...
1 reply by Lise GOIN FASKI
Mar 30, 2020 11:48 PM
Lise GOIN FASKI
...
Thanks a lot, Luis. You are so right. The blog link makes it very explicit. So thanks for sharing
Mar 28, 2020 8:23 AM
Replying to Alexandre Costa
...
Sergio,

Unless i am making a wrong reading of the problem this is not a problem related with the business layer , but with the social layer of the country as a whole. The message for confinement must be ordered or advised by the state governments, the only thing that the companies can do is provide the resources to allow remote work and reinforce the messages to stay at home, and provide clear communication about the real dangers. No matter what the business layer advises, will not stick if it is not supported by the governments.
Now you raised me a doubt , if her doubt is about the company where she works or to the all country, for a moment i stayed with the impression that her project was clarify the country about the dangers of covid-19 and the benefits of confinement, if such is the case communication assumes major importance and the country authorities have a important role on that, otherwise you are right in your considerations.
Hello Alexandre,

I work in the health sector and this issue is indeed much wider than the company I work for. My question applies to the entire country.

Before asking this question, I did two trainings about communication on the WHO platform. However, those trainings solely consider an educated audience. It shows here in Iraq because no one feels the WHO addresses to them. One example of it (and your comment was on point, Alexandre) is they do not speak the local language.

Sergio,

I also appreciated your comment. Yes, my question includes in a way the company. We run hospitals and we know we are absolutely not ready to face such pandemic. Consequently, communication at the community/country level has to be considered. The employees are perfectly aware of what is going on and what to do as they are educated and in contact with the Ministry of Health (MoH).

The bigger problem remains the community. Whatever has been done by WHO, the MoHand the official media is insufficient and ineffective.

Alexandre,

To go back on your comment, I will definitely dig further into it. The WHO should hire you because at no point they cover this.

Regards,
Lise
...
2 replies by Sergio Luis Conte
Mar 28, 2020 8:50 AM
Sergio Luis Conte
...
I understood. I worked in the same domain in previous pandemics. I am not an expert on communication but I can say that I was critical role on definining the strategy at this time. First thing to understand is what does mean "we are not absolutely ready". Put a list of items related to this and understand the reason item by item. That will help to create the strategy to follow. Second, as you know, into a crisis, each type of crisis, there are different ways to face it. You can search a lot from airplain crashes to economic crashes which will help to you. But at the end, your organization top management is the final decision group because between other things is not the same when the organization belongs to goverment or not. On top of all of this is the human factor. All of us are experienced the same in all the countries and country culture is the key. I am living in Argentina, South America. If you see the different behavors in different countries you will surprise. And if we extent this to other countries you will see that is impossible to apply the same meassures as country level in Argentina than in China (because the level of autoritasim, saying that form the point of view of culture not as a concern) or Japan where people behave usually taken social distance. In Argentina we greet with kisses and hugs, imaging that in Japan.
Mar 28, 2020 9:06 AM
Sergio Luis Conte
...
Continue. The way my country has taken was put on the table with high sincerity the scenarios. Basically they said: the problem is not the infection. All people will be infected by the virus sooner or later. The problem is when somebody will be infected to have a place to be properly cared for. That´s will not happend if we do not take actions to make people get the virus in the way no critical damage is done. That is happenning in the 80% of the cases. So, remember: you will be the next infected. But you can control how much damage the infection will do.
Mar 28, 2020 8:38 AM
Replying to Lise GOIN FASKI
...
Hello Alexandre,

I work in the health sector and this issue is indeed much wider than the company I work for. My question applies to the entire country.

Before asking this question, I did two trainings about communication on the WHO platform. However, those trainings solely consider an educated audience. It shows here in Iraq because no one feels the WHO addresses to them. One example of it (and your comment was on point, Alexandre) is they do not speak the local language.

Sergio,

I also appreciated your comment. Yes, my question includes in a way the company. We run hospitals and we know we are absolutely not ready to face such pandemic. Consequently, communication at the community/country level has to be considered. The employees are perfectly aware of what is going on and what to do as they are educated and in contact with the Ministry of Health (MoH).

The bigger problem remains the community. Whatever has been done by WHO, the MoHand the official media is insufficient and ineffective.

Alexandre,

To go back on your comment, I will definitely dig further into it. The WHO should hire you because at no point they cover this.

Regards,
Lise
I understood. I worked in the same domain in previous pandemics. I am not an expert on communication but I can say that I was critical role on definining the strategy at this time. First thing to understand is what does mean "we are not absolutely ready". Put a list of items related to this and understand the reason item by item. That will help to create the strategy to follow. Second, as you know, into a crisis, each type of crisis, there are different ways to face it. You can search a lot from airplain crashes to economic crashes which will help to you. But at the end, your organization top management is the final decision group because between other things is not the same when the organization belongs to goverment or not. On top of all of this is the human factor. All of us are experienced the same in all the countries and country culture is the key. I am living in Argentina, South America. If you see the different behavors in different countries you will surprise. And if we extent this to other countries you will see that is impossible to apply the same meassures as country level in Argentina than in China (because the level of autoritasim, saying that form the point of view of culture not as a concern) or Japan where people behave usually taken social distance. In Argentina we greet with kisses and hugs, imaging that in Japan.
Mar 28, 2020 8:38 AM
Replying to Lise GOIN FASKI
...
Hello Alexandre,

I work in the health sector and this issue is indeed much wider than the company I work for. My question applies to the entire country.

Before asking this question, I did two trainings about communication on the WHO platform. However, those trainings solely consider an educated audience. It shows here in Iraq because no one feels the WHO addresses to them. One example of it (and your comment was on point, Alexandre) is they do not speak the local language.

Sergio,

I also appreciated your comment. Yes, my question includes in a way the company. We run hospitals and we know we are absolutely not ready to face such pandemic. Consequently, communication at the community/country level has to be considered. The employees are perfectly aware of what is going on and what to do as they are educated and in contact with the Ministry of Health (MoH).

The bigger problem remains the community. Whatever has been done by WHO, the MoHand the official media is insufficient and ineffective.

Alexandre,

To go back on your comment, I will definitely dig further into it. The WHO should hire you because at no point they cover this.

Regards,
Lise
Continue. The way my country has taken was put on the table with high sincerity the scenarios. Basically they said: the problem is not the infection. All people will be infected by the virus sooner or later. The problem is when somebody will be infected to have a place to be properly cared for. That´s will not happend if we do not take actions to make people get the virus in the way no critical damage is done. That is happenning in the 80% of the cases. So, remember: you will be the next infected. But you can control how much damage the infection will do.
...
1 reply by Lise GOIN FASKI
Mar 28, 2020 9:49 AM
Lise GOIN FASKI
...
Thanks a lot, Sergio. Everything you write makes perfectly sense and it gives me a better idea of where to start (list of items, research for airplane crashes, etc.)

By "we are not ready," it means the entire health system in Iraq cannot take care of all the sick people. That means the equipment and medicine are insufficient; and infrastructures cannot welcome a thousands of potential victims of a virus.

Iraq is a very fascinating and unique country, and it has its fair load of challenges. I believe communication is crucial, not only to make people safer but also to prevent future issues. As the authorities are not transparent, people make up their own (irrational) explanations that may nurture present and future conflicts.

On which previous pandemics did you work?
Mar 28, 2020 9:06 AM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
Continue. The way my country has taken was put on the table with high sincerity the scenarios. Basically they said: the problem is not the infection. All people will be infected by the virus sooner or later. The problem is when somebody will be infected to have a place to be properly cared for. That´s will not happend if we do not take actions to make people get the virus in the way no critical damage is done. That is happenning in the 80% of the cases. So, remember: you will be the next infected. But you can control how much damage the infection will do.
Thanks a lot, Sergio. Everything you write makes perfectly sense and it gives me a better idea of where to start (list of items, research for airplane crashes, etc.)

By "we are not ready," it means the entire health system in Iraq cannot take care of all the sick people. That means the equipment and medicine are insufficient; and infrastructures cannot welcome a thousands of potential victims of a virus.

Iraq is a very fascinating and unique country, and it has its fair load of challenges. I believe communication is crucial, not only to make people safer but also to prevent future issues. As the authorities are not transparent, people make up their own (irrational) explanations that may nurture present and future conflicts.

On which previous pandemics did you work?
...
1 reply by Sergio Luis Conte
Mar 28, 2020 11:29 AM
Sergio Luis Conte
...
Thats rhe point. As other catastrofic events there is no system in the whole world with enough resources to face this because there is an econmic equation about it mainly in health care where having not used resources demage them. But it is valid taken into account if you have the enough resorces for non catastrofic situation. With that said the important thing is demostraing proactivity. You know the R of the virus then you can make projection BUT if and only if you have the possibility to do enough testing which is the other key due to reactive tapes availability between others
Hi Lise,

Yes, some people do not respect confinement due mentioned points and there are also other points.

The percentage is varies against to those points in every developing country.

Also in my country I see most of people does not care about confinement due to other reasons as follows:-
1- Livelihood is becoming very hard and some people working
and getting wages on daily bases.
2- Merchants begin to raise up the price of commodities including
sterilizers and masks (even if there are Health organizations).
3- Careless from all public sectors ( even they watching /hearing News and following up the social media).

... e.t.c.

High context Communication ,top-down deciding is one of the most culture dimensions is good for developing countries.
Today the dead people in Spain reach to 5600 as I heard from Sky-news.

BR,
...
1 reply by Lise GOIN FASKI
Mar 28, 2020 10:33 AM
Lise GOIN FASKI
...
Thank you, Mansour. The points you mention are also valid here. It makes me think about the fact it is important to include the local communities in the design of a communication strategy and the conception of the messages to deliver.

Quick question: Do you also have in Yemen the issue that some areas of the countries do not receive supplies because of underlying conflict? For instance, in Sulaymaniyah where I am, the supply in masks is very low as Erbil ("capital" of the region) does not want to send them. There is an old rivalry between the two political parties heading each one of those cities.

Also, are the humanitarian clusters still working?

Regards,
Lise
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