Who’s Zoomin’ Who?

April 28th, 2020

We have just run our first virtual crisis simulation using Zoom.

How did it go? Well, let’s put it this way: we learnt a huge amount. I kept on reminding myself that the first powered air flight by the Wright brothers ended in a crash, but they learnt a lot.

So how did we do? Overall, it was a success – we got across key learning points. And we learnt a huge amount. Here goes.

Lesson 1. Don’t believe a word of the promotional materials from wither Zoom or Microsoft Teams. This is not as simple as plugging into your laptop and away you go. Five minutes in, I was humming Who’s Zoomin’ Who by the great Aretha Franklin.

Lesson 2. Don’t go near YouTube tutorials…if you were confused to start with, you’ll be really befuddled at the end.

Lesson 3. Running the simulation requires a dedicated IT expert. In the good ol’ days of the early computers, you had one of those guys who wearing a white coat who eventually made the thing work. Running a simulation is complicated enough but trying to juggle with the inner workings of Zoom at the same time is impossible. You need the people in white coats.

Lesson 4. Learn how to turn your microphone off and on. Sounds easy, but maybe I’m stupid. Look at this clip from the Welsh parliament to see (and hear) how it goes wrong. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-52385006

Lesson 5. Have secondary lines of communication, often called phones. So make sure you are can stay in touch with the people running the show using a proven technology.

Lesson 6. Zoom-bombing is great for intrusions by journalists and activists – as good as the real thing. We’ll keep that.

Can a virtual simulation work? Definitely and next time, we are going to follow all the lessons we’ve learnt.

Meantime, we are most  grateful to our willing ‘guinea pigs’: the UK’s IMD Alumni Club for playing along.

Paolo Scalco of the Alumni committee said: “It was tough, much harder than I remembered it being. The virtual format is one aspect but the second is that when I first did it, I had the advantage of knowing my team members so it was easier to assign roles and work out who is doing what.”

In a crisis, internal communication is vital to get a speedy and accurate response. I’m not sure that Zoom or Teams are yet there. But we will persevere – this is the new world.

At the end of the session, I started singing another song, this time from Fat Larry’s Band:

Oh zoom, you chased the day away
High noon, the moon and stars came out to play
Then my whole wide world went zoom

Have a good week



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