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CASE STUDY: Ego and Dysfunction at Community Event


Ego and Dysfunction at Community Event

Copyright TEAM-Solutions.US All Rights Reserved

The city manager directs the police department to develop a special event plan, with contingencies, for this fall’s parade and carnival.  

The police assemble their planning team consisting of:

  • Two senior police officers
  • Two junior police officers
  • “Jerry” from the Streets Department

They cobble together a plan based on their knowledge, experience, and perspective.  

The city manager who may not know any better approves of the plan.

Fast forward to the fall parade.

  • One of the parade floats catches fire and crashes into the crowd of spectators and then knocks down a power pole.
  • Spectators – some injured - flee in all directions and snarl the traffic flow in the immediate area.
  • The local hospital is overrun with people self-reporting their injuries.
  • Some parents cannot find their children in the melee and clog the 911 system crying for help.
  • Social media is reporting that it was a terrorist attack.
  • Local businesses have to shut down because of the growing unrest.

The result of the city manager’s investigation showed the following entities had valuable contributions that were available for the event plan but were not included (mental model:  “Selection Bias”).

  • the fire department
  • the hospital
  • the ambulance service
  • the citizen volunteers
  • the business community
  • the emergency managers, etc.

The police department is embarrassed but incredulous about including others in ‘their’ plan.  

The jilted organizations lose trust and respect for the police department and eventually each other as each of them search for relevancy and power.

When the time to plan for the next parade rolls around, the divisions between the groups has grown even deeper.  Even under direct orders to work together, the group is neither inclusive or productive.

The parade ends up being a disjointed display of ego, political posturing, and ineptitude.

In 20+ years I’ve seen a similar dynamic play out in the public sector and the private sector.  

And I could have just as easily made the fire department, the emergency manager, the citizen volunteer group or the business continuity manager the ‘star’ of the show.

Copyright TEAM-Solutions.US All Rights Reserved

Mike McKenna

About the author

Mike McKenna is the founder and president of TEAM Solutions. He helps public and private sector leaders improve their outcomes before, during and after a planned event or unplanned crisis.

Please contact Mike via the Contact page.

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