Training and Exercise Management

MSB: Preparing government officials to effectively manage and counter disinformation

  • Background: With the tools to produce and share information, readily available to virtually everybody, fact checking is becoming ever harder, as bots and fake experts from fake institutes feed the spread of false information, 24/7.  As part of a nation-wide program to support government agencies to counter this rise in disinformation, 4C Strategies has been training government officials across Sweden.

  • Challenge: Prepare government agencies and county administrative boards to effectively counter information influence activities, in accordance with industry best practices.

  • Solution: The Implementation and training program is a 4C Strategies program built on tailored scenarios. It is designed to help people – with little or no experience of disinformation tactics – to increase their ability to work collaboratively to counter information influence.

  • Benefits: Having worked with real-life scenarios, participants have the right procedures in place and the confidence in their abilities to manage and counter disinformation.

  • Customer: The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency is responsible for issues concerning civil protection, public safety, emergency management and civil defense.

With information influence continually on the rise and antagonists looking to destabilise countries, regions and industries, through the spread of fake news and disinformation, 4C Strategies was approached by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), to help prepare government agencies and county administrative boards nationwide to counter this.

Getting started

To start with we made sure there was a good mix of people, representing diverse organisations. Bringing people together from different organisations allows for a collaborative approach and lets participants know they are not alone. It also speeds the learning process up and helps attendees understand the importance of collaboration when countering information influence.

The implementation and training program

With events planned around the country, it was time to roll out the program with one day training workshops in each region. The program involved a series of exercises throughout the day to help attendees:

  • Understand the problem and the potential scale of it
  • Identify potential information influence
  • Understand who the target group is
  • Analyse how the target audience can be impacted
  • Create strategies and processes for countering information
  • Learn proven techniques for proactive communication.
“The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) is the leading authority on countering information influence. It‘s an honour to support organisations on behalf of MSB. As well-renowned trainers and exercise managers at 4C Strategies, we can implement MSB best practices at any organisation in the world.”
Maria Pålsson, Senior Consultant at 4C Strategies

“Too often, people assume they have to engage with antagonists, but that’s just playing into their hands”, continues Maria Pålsson. “Reasoning with an antagonist, is a great way to lose at information warfare. A rule of thumb is to stick to your strategic narratives, always. When you know your target groups and what’s at stake for them, you can reassure them that you are the trusted source for information.”

Learning by doing

In total, 15 programs were held throughout the country, with around 200 attendees from 55 governmental agencies, county councils and municipalities. Doing scenario exercises in smaller groups like this allows everyone to share their experiences and get a real sense of what is at stake. People quickly learn that everyone has to be vigilant to spot fake news and misinformation. At the same time, clear lines of responsibility in an organisation ensure everyone knows how to escalate any concerns, so that the right action can be taken.

In one typical exercise, participants were challenged to analyse target groups and worked through a series of questions to develop a strategic narrative. In another exercise they were presented with information influence from tailored scenarios and were asked to use tools to identify who was behind the message.

"In total, 15 implementation and training programs were held throughout Sweden, with around 200 attendees from 55 governmental agencies, county councils and municipalities."
Maria Pålsson, Senior Consultant at 4C Strategies

“Typically, government agencies conduct extensive risk analysis programs every four years,” says Pålsson. “A lot can happen in that time. Holding smaller-scale exercises like this can prove really beneficial for the organisations and the people they serve.”

Putting learnings in practice

After one day of training and exercises, it’s time for the participants to put their learnings into practice. As it is something that most of them have to do in additional to their day-today responsibilities, they are usually quick to involve others within the organisation. Based on their learnings they can quickly put processes into place that didn’t exist before and share and agree on strategic narratives.

“Through this series of exercises, we gave attendees the tools and confidence to counter information influence,” concludes Maria Pålsson. “In today’s society where entire industries and countries are being targeted by antagonists, preparing staff to for this is essential. If you want a proven team to help your organisation adopt and act on best practices, 4C Strategies is the ideal partner.”

Read the full interview with Maria Pålsson on information, disinformation and countering information influence →

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