Regular readers will know that my blogs are (more often than not) either inspired by a situation I encountered or by the people I have met during the previous week. But in the last few days my business acquaintances have become so boring. It’s not that they themselves are boring, it’s just that the enormity of what is happening in the world’s financial markets is so overwhelming that everything else seems to shade into trivia and insignificance.
Of course, if I switch the conversation to the crisis (which isn’t difficult) then everyone, including myself, wakes up and has an opinion. But the whole thing is very bizarre. Here in Brussels, now that two of the household name banks are in deep trouble, people are beginning to feel a sense of doom. However, I get the feeling that they are either trying to ignore it (like a family embarrassment) or are simply refusing to believe that it will have any effect on them.
The quote of the week for me comes from BBC 4’s, ‘News Quiz’ radio program when contributor Jeremy Hardy quoted John McCain “This is no time for politics” – well excuse me, if ever there was a time for politics, it is now! With the apparent collapse of capitalism (albeit temporary – one hopes) in the US, one might imagine that it is time for the politicians to do what they are paid for? It’s weird how the word ‘politics’ has been so much over used by business people that it now has come to mean, ‘plotting’ and ‘underhandedness’, when according to the English Chambers dictionary it actually means ‘the art or science of government’.
The whole scene reminds me of the image I have of Pompeii at the moment of Versuvius’ eruption – in a modern context you can imagine Mum and Dad and their two children in the car park of Delhaize supermarket loading ready made meals into the trunk of their Porche Caynne.
Everyone is an expert but no one knows for sure what to do – and those with the loudest voices are often taken to be the wise ones, until someone in a quiet voice calmly suggests a total other alternative that spins your imagination into another unwelcome direction.
I train my teams to think out of the box and to be creative but this advice is not given for crisis situations that have been predicted and when there is a well thought through risk analysis strategy that has been painstakingly prepared and tested beforehand. Or am I wrong? Was today’s situation so completely unpredictable, were there no warning signs at all? In ICT we are trained to ask the big ‘what if’ questions and to build complete solution scenarios for them, so I find it kind of weird that the US politicians have no such risk strategy prepared and in place, especially as there are ample previous examples of similar situations, albeit on a smaller scale?
Hopefully next week everything will be back to normal, and my blog will be back on the topic of everyday management issues? I just hadn’t thought that risk strategies might end up being one of them?