The events of the past few weeks have had me thinking lately about being prepared. It seems that no matter how much warning we are given about a potential problem or situation, there always seems to be some things you just cant predict or be prepared for. There are, of course, those who don’t prepare at all but hopefully that is a small number.
We don’t know what we don’t know. There are people smarter than me that call these “Black Swans”. How do you deal with this? It seems that no matter what we do to be prepared for a situation, there is always going to be that one thing that we had no way of knowing about and for which we did not have a response or approach pre-prepared.
So do we give up and hope that nothing happens? Worry all the time and be miserable? I think there is a third option.
We may not be able to be 100% prepared with a predefined action or mitigate for a specific disaster or unexpected event, but we can be prepared for our response to an unexpected event. We can learn not to panic, or worry. We can learn to rely on our creativity and skills and the resources available to us. We can learn to approach an unexpected event with intelligence. As we think of preparatory actions we can take, how can we prepare our emotional and intelligent response to events, known and unknown? What tools and resources can we make available that might help us in an unexpected situation?
As the manager of a great number of processes and people, there are a lot of unexpected events that come at me every day. From project issues to technical issues, the level to which we prepare and build up our responsiveness toolset depends on the potential severity of issues and risk exposure. The important nuance here is that the preparedness or lack thereof is under my domain, my ownership. If there is an unexpected event that causes stress and taxes or exceeds my preparation, it is not appropriate to shift the blame. What is appropriate is to accept the situation, resolve it, and then analyze it for lessons learned and future actions and responses.
I realize that there were many people caught up in the hurricane that experienced a much worse disaster than they had anticipated. As a community it is important that we band together to help these people and not rely on a government that still has not paid all its Katrina claims to jump in and provide the assistance. And then as citizens, it is important to look at the unexpected events from that disaster and help each other plan to be better prepared for the next time.
To stay on topic but bring in another controversial example, there are so many people I know that are emotionally upset by the outcome of the election. Regardless of your political leanings, you should be prepared for an outcome other than what you want. Responsible government starts in your very own home. Don’t create your own financial cliff! Be prepared, not only for unexpected but also the expected. Save more, spend less and make your own destiny.
All of this leads me to say that I am extremely thankful to live in a country where I am free to express my opinion, either in my blog or by voting. I am free to prepare myself for any disaster as long as I don’t blame others if I am unhappy with my choices. I am thankful for an industry that is vital and healthy and has a focus on information technology and process improvement, which are both my passion. I am thankful that I work for a company that has supportive management and brilliant employees that make me look entirely smarter than I am! I am thankful for customers that value our services and our preparedness. I am thankful for a family that is supportive and loving. And I am thankful for those one or two people out there that actually read what I post!