Mind the gap: From recommendation to practice in crisis management. Exploring the gap between the “lessons identified” during exercise cygnus and the UK government response to COVID-19





crisis management, learning, COVID-19, exercises


The failure to learn lessons from crises is a common observation. The UK Government has been criticized for its response to the COVID-19 crisis. Many critics have highlighted the Government’s apparent failure to learn the lessons from Exercise Cygnus, which made recommendations to improve the UK’s response to a pandemic. This article compares and contrasts the UK Government’s response with the exercise recommendations. It critiques the gaps using current crisis management literature and argues that to avoid future failings, more emphasis is needed on the effectiveness of recommendations from exercises. If this is not done, exercise lessons identified, and their recommendations will not be operationalized. This article argues that the successful transition from policy recommendation to practice requires recommendations to be contextualized, so they are feasible and practical, before they can be institutionalized. It introduces a practical framework and organizational actions on how future exercises can close the gap from lessons identified to be learned and shape practice.

Author Biographies

Kevin Pollock, MBCI

Emergency Planning College, York, United Kingdom

Eve Coles, BSc (Hons), CertEd, FEPS

Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand


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How to Cite

Pollock, MBCI, K., and E. Coles, BSc (Hons), CertEd, FEPS. “Mind the Gap: From Recommendation to Practice in Crisis Management. Exploring the Gap Between the ‘lessons identified’ During Exercise Cygnus and the UK Government Response to COVID-19”. Journal of Emergency Management, vol. 19, no. 7, Oct. 2021, pp. 133-49, doi:10.5055/jem.0596.