Becoming future proof – how do you do that? Points of attention.

Author: Manu Steens

Inspired by ‘Ready or not’ by Tom Palmaerts.

‘Future proof’ also means being antifragile and resilient. Does resilience start with becoming future proof or is that just one of the entrances? I think it’s the latter.

What can we learn for Business Continuity Management (BCM), Risk Management (RM) and Crisis Management (CM) and on a personal level to become future proof?

The first thing, of course, is that we look into the future. We have to make time for that. If we don’t, we get too focused on what we already can. That produces a daily grind that stays present, giving rise to inefficiency. So variety is the key to adaptation. Further, variety of topics we focus on is also necessary because then we give our subconscious the chance to let a few 10,000ths of brain cells grind through on each of the problems.

However, care should be taken that it does not become too much so that you no longer dwell on a friend’s or acquaintance’s birthday than to send an emoji. The golden advice of Augustus (Ancient Rome) therefore remains valid: “festina lente” or make haste slowly. In fact, that was already an opinion that was close to Kahneman’s when he spoke about “Thinking Fast and Slow”: you have to go slower now and then, because quick decisions often do not survive a long-term vision.

So a right attitude is to embrace changes with slow thinking, which has everything to do with a first step: exploring those changes and the next step: anticipating changes, partly from gut feeling, partly from reason.

That’s why the advice is to stay focused, but in the right way: start with small things.

–         Check your e-mail only twice a day at fixed times.

–         Turn off your sound on your cell phone when you’re not on call. Don’t let yourself be disturbed, use the airplane mode of your smartphone if necessary.

–         Focus on one subject at a time in blocks of time, so that you can get into a ‘concentration flow’.

–         Change subjects regularly, so that your brain knows rest and continues to work subconsciously.

–         Decline meetings if they are not important.

–         Do creative brainstorms and group sessions regularly, at the time of the day when you are at your best.

In order to bring yourself to the best of your ability, there are also a few things you should take into account: you should explore the future from the best possible known and, above all, lived-through present. So:

–         Read a lot and regularly, and gain knowledge.

–         Love yourself.

–         Treat yourself to something tasty.

–         Use the gentle stimulus of calm music (for myself at least, for others it may be a bit rougher).

–         Use technology to support you.

–         Walk during the meetings.

–         Less coffee, more water, avoid sugar.

Second, we see that the masses choose a simple way out, even if it is wrong. Few choose to delve into the longer path that requires more discipline and patience. The masses know they are going wrong, but they don’t know either, because they don’t want to know. And before you know it, you’ll come across a Gray Rhino that is unavoidable. And that will happen again and again. In this way one learns more not from mistakes of the past than one does learn. And that has to do with brain economy. A one-off experience without great factual knowledge thus becomes a rule of thumb that one uses as a law of nature with absolute certainty. And the reason behind this is often ‘awareness of time’. Or the economical use of their personal time. As a result, many Americans stop by a store on their way to work to pick up a snack for breakfast, fueling obesity. And they know it.

From a time economy, we often choose the easy path at work. That feels safer, because it is familiar territory. It is not untrodden ground. And that goes well, until change is required. Then, of course, an unknown territory takes over, and it becomes more difficult for everybody to see, decide and act. This creates psychological resistance. One must therefore learn to experience overcoming a challenge as something delicious.

The reason why one should learn to enjoy being challenged is that one often gets into original situations, and therefore needs a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset. This is the only way to push boundaries by alternately exerting and relaxing.

A realization that must penetrate to the core of the gut feeling is that what has previously been tried and failed, may now succeed if the system with which one works changes. After all, complex systems are systems that are time-dependent, in an unprecedented way. As a result, the system’s response to external influences cannot be predicted. Therefore, keep the sensors of your soul open for anticipation of changes in the situation, which is a complex system. Therefore, exploring futures is also useful. Adapt with further training, and think differently, for example from the point of view of scarcity. That could be sooner than you think. See also the UK after Brexit.

Subsequently, it is important to look for a tailor-made approach and solutions in an inspired way in crisis management and resilience management. A copy-paste of a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) from another organization does not work for your own organization and therefore does not add anything to your own resilience. The environment changes and everyone and everything is chasing the facts. So continuous adaptation and evolution is required. For organizations this means that the plans, the risk registers, the objectives must change. For people, this means sharpening skills and developing talents and competencies. For both, a vision of the future that is somehow correct is a must. Because one has to go to the core of the questions, the ‘5 x why technique’ is important to find the original causes.

Although it makes no sense to copy a plan from elsewhere, it is possible that inspired design makes sense. It can provide insights into one’s own situation from the situation of the other. That way an inspired version will be better than the original for your situation, even if it fails, because this is part of evolving.

In this way too, creating your own BCP, giving your own interpretation to the crisis teams, setting up your own risk management is innovation. Because it creates or contributes to value. But that cannot be done efficiently without learning from others

In addition, networking is also important because doing all that work without the internal and external customer and knowing the other stakeholders yields nothing useful. Or almost nothing.

So start from your sources, which you mix with the knowledge about your own current and future situations. Write down your own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and help build insight into your own situation from there. But always mention your sources, otherwise you will be stealing.

Reverse engineer your sources: see why they work for them, and apply similar reasoning to your own situation.

That way you build your own flexibility. You get it back in no time, because you already had it as a child. Ultimately, agility is innate. Some lose that and become dinos in the business. Others sometimes adapt. Still others are constantly adapting. The latter is what you need. That can go so far that you also have to change dreams and goals. However, that does not mean that you should unlearn acquired skills. Because many things come back cyclically in history and you don’t know which ones in advance. But ‘panta rei’, and so the needs of everything and everyone are constantly changing.

A point of attention here is that experts sometimes try to be able to do everything. That does not work. You have to be able to let go of things. Others can do some things better than you can. However, these are external factors on which you should let nothing depend, but to which you must adapt yourself and your organization. Preparation is therefore ‘key’ and also your own flexibility. Learn to adjust your wishes. Among other things, by continuously learning, or by being curious and by daring to change your opinion in a well-founded and motivated way. A ‘worst case scenario’ in a BCP can thus better become a ‘reasonable worst case scenario’. By adapting in a reasonable way to what you and your organization can handle. What is needed is:

–         Using an open attitude.

–         Trying to be ‘reasonably all-round’.

–         Use fast and slow thinking.

Extremely important are:

–         The use of a cultural empathy and being in / creating a multi-cultural environment.

–         Think about whether you can do it yourself before going to a consultant, because you always know your own needs better than they do.

This makes you more independent, self-steering and more flexible.

Most importantly, even if you evolve well to become future proof, you must always remain a freshman. In the sense that you regularly still practice. Otherwise ideas turn into sterile theory that everyone eventually distrusts, except those who are concerned with ‘conspiracy theories’. So take your time for theory, but also for practice. Take pleasure in both, come up with original things, and before you know it there will be another evolution. This requires interest, as the engine of lifelong learning. When is the best time to do that? When you feel the passion for it. For the content. Note: you don’t have to have a passion to do “something”, but to do “that”.

To further steer that in the right direction, you have to break through the bubble that you were taught in your upbringing. To see your blind spots in what you want to develop. Therefore: travel, do conferences, imagine your dreams, start a ‘secret’ talk club for extreme thoughts.

So: as said: passion comes first. You have to dream big, but start small. Step by step you move forward. Provide content first, look and feel after. Collaborate with competitors and see what you can create together. Go hang out with them. And put your passion to the test.

Besides all this that is based on good will, saying that there is a threat is usually meaningless. One must feel it. So creativity is needed to make this feel. This creativity must be stimulated from the youth years. A STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education should therefore also contain art. (Then it becomes STEAM) After all, design is necessary to establish a link between people and technology.

Thinking about the future should always be based on today’s reality. Otherwise it will not be accepted. That is why working step by step is also important here. A challenge for crisis teams is therefore the fact that risks sometimes seem to make leaps and bounds, because events can sometimes occur suddenly.

To think about the future from the present, with a multi-cultural and technical and scientific background, you should also visit other entities and other governments. Discuss with them their approach and point of view and your own.

However, to think diversely in a group, inclusion is needed. A good Cultural Quotient (CQ) (and culture-based empathy) and adaptability are required for this. Together you have more depth and therefore better insights into your own situation. A better 360° view. Without inclusion, it is just a check-the-box exercise for diversity policy. With a good CQ, look not only inwardly, into your own organization, but also at world developments, far and near from you. Look to the future and the past, to be and remain successful. A strong element in this can be creating your own knowledge-sharing network for people with common interests. A mindset to dare to take risks is essential here.

What must, as an example of daring, is to regularly (dare to) raise the bar. The crisis teams must be informed about the world. In addition, risk leadership is a means to this end. Everything must be openly discussed, hard for the results but with a heart for the people.

In line with this, it makes sense for each of the employees in the crisis teams to look daily at what they are grateful for that day, every day. This focuses on the positive, which increases resilience. Because gratitude, just like being flexible, leads to more happiness. And happiness is one of the most essential conditions for being future-proof.

Is a Growth Mindset always better than a Fixed Mindset in Crisis Management ?

Author: Manu Steens

A very good friend of mine recently took a course on growth mindset and fixed mindset in preschoolers. It turns out that gifted preschoolers are more likely to simply jump over the problems than normally gifted preschoolers, who struggle with the same problems. You would say “good!” but is it? As a result, they do not fall into the pit of the problem and do not learn to climb out of it. As a result, they only take on problems that they can jump over without any problems. They don’t take on challenges. And that can cause for a fixed mindset later in life. People now see this and are trying to change this mindset of these toddlers into a growth mindset.

For me as a crisis manager, that actually first raises the question: “What is a growth mindset and what is a fixed mindset?” and since crisis management has a lot to do with struggling with problems and climbing out of potholes: “What’s important about it for my organization? Where can I place who?”

The phenomenon of “Growth Mindset ” versus “ Fixed Mindset” therefore seems important .

A good explanation of the difference between the two can be found at https://changedepartment.nl/wat-zijn-de-fixed-mindset-en-de-growth-mindset/

(It is in Dutch, but you can use an on-line translator device, right?)

The author of that article, Lodewijk Gimberg , gives the following explanation:

What is a fixed mindset?

“The people who stand behind the fixed mindset, or who walk around with it, are convinced that capacities, for example the talent to be able to analyze well, are fixed. If you are successful at something, you have a talent for it. It is therefore better to avoid things that you can do less well. This way there are no errors and you will not receive negative feedback about these matters. When people have a fixed mindset, they generally give up more quickly and put less or no effort into learning new things.

People with a fixed mindset often also believe that there is virtually no development possible about yourself, your qualities and skills. The persons with a fixed mindset are convinced that their behavior is immutable. A fixed mindset therefore hinders growth and development because ‘we do things the way we always did them’.”

What is a growth mindset?

“That is exactly the case with growth mindset. There is opportunity for development. You are open to improving your qualities, personality and work to be performed. People or persons who have a growth mindset will not give up easily and resign themselves to the fact that the things they want to achieve will have to go step by step. Learning from the situation and how best to approach it is part of the process of a growth mindset. The growth mindset is therefore an important catalyst behind performance improvements and changes.”

These differences, he writes, are vital in an organization. He therefore argues in favor of converting a fixed mindset into a growth mindset.

If I interpret what it says here succinctly, people with a fixed mindset are not suitable for acquiring a competence outside of their talents. But I think there are also opportunities within talents. There is even a booklet about: “I choose for my talent” by Luk Dewulf .

Are fixed mindsetters therefore lost to society? I do not think so. After all, working within your talents is much more fun than outside. Working within talents gives more energy than it costs. Beyond that, it mainly costs energy. That’s why I think it’s careless to define fixed mindsetters in that way. There should be a definition that applies gray zones. And what is missing on the websites I refer to are examples.

In my opinion, interest is an important factor in this. I am trying to give an example of a fixed mindset . Mea culpa if I hit the ball wrong.

People who systematically learn a lot are ICT specialists . Every now and then a new type of system comes out, be it servers or operating systems, and ICT security is already completely driven to the top: the rogue world does not stand still. The security of an organization must therefore always adapt to a changing world.

This brings us to crisis management: this is a strategic world par excellence that must arm itself against new forms and types of threats.

Let’s move on to more tactical stuff.

Fixed mindsetters believe they should stick to their talent ? A talent can be that you enjoy juggling with servers and operating systems. That you enjoy analyzing the customer’s situation and parameterizing those servers and operating systems with ease, so that you install the ideal working environment for your internal customers, namely the business. You are a “miracle kid”. And then you put everything in clear procedures of how you did it, with the necessary screen prints. A child can then do the job the next time. While you indulge in exploring new business needs. Because that falls within your talents.

With your procedures you have been an enormous help to the BC manager, who plans a large part of his ICT continuity, together with the ICT security manager .

On a certain day, the testing of the ICT continuity plans will be discussed. The procedures of the fixed mindsetter work smoothly. That’s how it should be. And he does it with pleasure. After all, it is his “dada”. It is something which is good to do for him. Analyzing and applying. And keep applying.

Then a crisis happens. A nearby river bursts its banks and overflows the server park of the organization. The water is high. An ICT world is thus confronted with a problem from a non-ICT world. The havoc is enormous. Not just for the organization. What has to happen? The fixed mindsetter does not know that at that moment. This is not his job, is his reasoning. Is that good or bad? He chooses to stay in his comfort zone , because otherwise the challenge becomes too much, and threatens to enter the panic zone.

Then the Crisis Management team takes action. Together with the BC Manager, they determine the priorities and determine a strategic solution. And they do it thoroughly: relocation of the company, so that this crisis cannot happen again. And modernize: we are going to build a new server park from the ground up. With the latest technology. But first, the disaster recovery site must be set in motion. That is a cold site, the fixed mindsetter knows. And those servers, right, let’s think, how do we go about that? This is a known issue. The principles are the same as when setting up the primary server park. The procedures are on a spare laptop. The backups work, because they were regularly checked to fix minor system errors. “My dada” the fixed mindsetter thinks again. And the work is moving forward.

A few days later, the disaster recovery site is up and running.

That was possible, because his team leader let him continue to work from his comfort zone: known solutions for experienced problems.

The strategic decisions of the CMT ignore the fixed mindsetter. Their own work comes first.

The CMT is now having heated discussions: where should we relocate ? What threats are there? What is there we don’t know yet? And above all: is that opportune for the employees of the organization? Now maybe no one has drowned, but what are the threats to the staff in which place? How fast can we find a building again? And if we were to work hybrid, could we get by with a smaller building, let alone with a renovated mansion? All questions we were not aware of before. The questions are solved step by step. And that will make it all right, they want to believe. They can believe that, because they come from their comfort zone into a wide dare zone. They dare to experiment.

So far an example of a collaboration between fixed and growth mindset. Both groups in this example may be endowed with a more than decent IQ, and with interests in their field.

If I see a Growth Mind setting CMT in this way working together with a Fixed Mind setter, here as an example a specialist in ICT who only follows his talents and can make perfect analyzes with them, then I think that a fixed mindsetter, through his work for the purpose of disaster recovery, to the BC Manager and CMT are a good added value.

Some will not agree with this example, because the fixed mindsetter in the example has developed into an ITer. I wish to disprove this statement, because by entering an organization as a “unexperienced person” he ends up in a culture where he can be given the opportunity to learn the trade in ICT himself, where “we always did it like this: buy a server, find the instructions from the OS, and install according to good principles” builds in some degree of flexibility.

Some will say that I am ignoring the principle that a fixed mindsetter stops developing. I also want to contradict that, in the sense that it is very black and white. There may also be gray areas here. God must have his number.

However, there are also those that have indeed come to a standstill in terms of development. They will benefit more from a mind switch.

Let’s go back to the children with whom everything starts: “everyone is born with a growth mindset” you can read on the website of Charlotte Labee : https://www.charlottelabee.com/wat-is-het-different-between-growth -mindset-and-fixed-mindset/

However, along their life path, people are confronted with situations that teach them a fixed mindset.

Indeed, there is much to be said for tackling the situation from the very beginning. An enormous responsibility for schools, and also for pre-school education. Our crisis management can depend on it. Challenge those gifted children! Adapted education also for those who can do more than the average !

However, one thing has been debunked : fixed mindsets are not worthless. As you progress in your talents, you can become an expert in your field. And that can be a dream come true. That is possible with many, because I do not believe that the situation of people is either black or white. Doing something or doing nothing with your talents is much more black and white in my opinion. That is why interest is an important factor. It does allow development, albeit for a fixed mindsetter within his talents.

But a growth mindset can also be active within a field of a talent. These are often the people who work on original problems in their field. Putting together original solutions for new challenges step by step in order to arrive at a solution.

When I think about it, back related to ICT, I fear that the rogue world, hackers for example, is in the advantage. They look for solutions to steal where, for example, banks raise obstacles with security, in order to protect their customers’ money. And their successes are in the newspapers every day. They easily spend 70% of their stolen revenues in R&D. Among the “good guys” there are well-known anti-malware companies at the top of ICT Security. But they are always lagging behind. The new malware actually comes first.

Companies that develop new technology, thanks to their growth mindsets, can help an entire army of fixed mindsets find work.

“Do we all have to invent a new kind of bread to be bakers?” seems like a fair question to me. Many difficult problems can still be solved by fixed mindsetters, within their talents. And this situation is very common. Very many top doctors don’t come up with new remedies for unresolved medical problems, very many top engineers don’t bring new types of technologies to the market.

In my opinion, both can work together perfectly , as long as one can keep the fixed mindsetter within the comfort zone. Both can realize dreams. But I do think that both dream differently.

What are points of attention in crisis management ?

Author: Manu Steens

A friend once told me “I don’t need advice, nobody has to give it to me”. The reason behind those words was that she has a very strong feeling that “advice” as a word actually has an addictive effect, making the advised person dependent on the advisor. Later, according to her, this would be revenged when you can no longer think or act independently. Yet I use the word advice here because I have no better word. In my experience with crises, there are a number of things that you should pay attention to.

  1. Be kind to yourself.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. That’s why you have to have time for yourself, for your spirit – and body. So that you don’t outrun yourself. During some crises, such as during the corona crisis, I started very motivated. In three months I saved almost 1.5 months in overtime. It is therefore not only important that you recover (part of) this during and after the crisis, it is also important that you stop yourself in between. That you are there for yourself. For me, a shave was such a moment, sometimes a cup of coffee. For others, that may be reading the newspaper with a croissant. In a prolonged crisis, it is important that you learn to quickly and effectively press a pause button at times.

  • Know your business.

There is nothing more frustrating than dealing with a crisis and not finding the ends you can pull to unravel the problem. You are the crisis manager. You must act NOW. You are in the middle of the arena and you have to pull all the strings in the right order to get a good result. To survive that “fight”, you must have weapons. But having weapons is not enough. You must know how to deal with it easily. They must be an extension of yourself. Like driving a car, you should no longer have to think “where is the brake?”. Braking should be automatic. The deployment of people and resources as well. To do this, you have to be able to count on your people and resources. But you have to know them: you have to know what they stand for, what they can do, what you can expect.

  • Be a leader, a coach, a manager, an entrepreneur,…

But above all, be human. Crisis management is 90% communication, so make sure you stay human. Communicate from person to person. Do not fall into the trap of giving blind orders, without an eye for the human nature of yourself and your fellow man. Yes you can have expectations. Yes you have to give orders. Yes you have to ask for information and yes they have to obey. And yet, no, humans are not machines. A wink, a pat on the back, a “please” and “thank you” on the right time can sometimes do wonders. Leave everyone in their dignity.

  • “Dress for the occasion”.

Some people think that work is official, and therefore requires a suit. In some functions, that may be true. A CEO who should report the situation in the board perhaps best uses a suit and tie. A spokesperson appearing for the press may do so also. Still, my advice in this area is: dress in such a way that you feel best in it. A crisis team is not an army platoon … You don’t need a uniform. Be yourself to maximize your return, including with regard to your clothing.

  • Create a reward prospect, and occasionally celebrate the achieved milestones.

Humans are not machines. Plugging in is sometimes difficult , but turning it off is not simply possible. People like to have a word of appreciation in between, they also like a bright spot at the end of the tunnel. For crisis management it is important that a bright spot is created here and there in the course of the battle. After a few months of Covid19, we were already talking about what we want after the crisis. Our teams had a unanimous wish: a BBQ at the end of the ride. In between, after one year, we were spoiled with a meal by a chef. It must not always be super-de-luxe. The important thing is that the team members can also enjoy themselves together. Because a crisis also creates a bond between people that goes beyond work. A crisis creates a common enemy. And that creates a “brother and sisterhood”. ” The blood of the convent is thicker than the water of the womb.” Applies. There is a “we” feeling. The value thereof is inestimable.

  • Watch your diet and exercise.

A good mood is very important to keep a healthy soul in a healthy body. Diet and exercise are important factors for this. You are what you eat and exercise releases happiness hormones in the brain, which are necessary for psychological energy. Fibers in food is important because the spirit of the soul and the fluency of digestion are always closely linked.

  • Make sure you know yourself.

Look for yourself before you have to deal with a crisis. What do you love? What makes you happy? What gives you energy? At what time of day do you usually have your good ideas? Man is a creature of habit. Therefore, always look for such moments when the situation becomes difficult. Check with yourself that you are not in danger of outrunning yourself. Burnout in the middle of a crisis is of no use to anyone. It has no added value and it weakens your team, because your expertise is no longer or less present. Therefore, make sure you realize whether you are in balance. If not, do something about it immediately. Explore yourself in peacetime. Know your limits.

  • Radical is not wrong.

Go for the solution. Instant and unstoppable. Choose the best solution, and don’t be afraid to make sacrifices. Sometimes situations are simple. E.g. you may have to extinguish a fire. You should not doubt whether you are doing the right thing with that extinguishing, because either everything sees white, or everything sees black. Although I believe in the values ​​of Daniel Kahneman (author of ‘Thinking fast and slow’), I am convinced that speed of thought is also important in a crisis. But to be able to do that meaningfully, this ‘thinking fast’ must be trained. In addition to making exercises with fast thinking, a lot of ‘slow thinking’ also serves this purpose. That slow thinking is ideal for making plans in advance, because at that moment it allows you to think radically through hypothetical situations. Exploring and investigating every possible twist of the plan. And you have to keep planning for that. You can go up to the level where you think it is still realistic, and then you have to dare to go a step further. Only practice makes perfect, also in thinking. Don’t stick to one worst case scenario. Make many.

  • Keep smiling !

Humor is not evident in a crisis. Nevertheless, it is absolutely necessary to have a humor (if necessary, black) when the accident affects the organization or people. That sounds antisocial, and it is. But humor and laughter are the best weapons to face a new crisis and to continue to deal with it. In Africa, there are tribes of people who, when disaster strikes, are gathering and begin laugh about their misery. They have the experience that the disaster seems much smaller and more manageable afterwards. And they build up the courage to fight it. Laughter is therefore also healthy in a crisis! A tip that is not out of place here is to prepare the meetings with a presentation tool, and to place a photo or drawing in it on the first and last slide that shows the seriousness with a wink. However, there is a danger of exaggeration. One has to watch out for that.

  1. The Four Laws of Antifragile

Even during a crisis, measures are taken that must be weighed up against necessary and sufficient. Strictly speaking, the following four criteria apply to measures: they must

  • be proportional,
  • be prudent,
  • be effective,
  • be efficient.

But these four rules only become applicable when one wants to consider the quality of a measure. There are also four interpretable rules that contribute to the creation of a measure:

  1. don’t hurt yourself,
  2. do no harm to another,
  3. don’t break anything,
  4. if it doesn’t go against these first three rules, take your chances.

These rules can be interpreted according to the situation, because the main crises affect people in a statistical way, and sometimes interventions have to be done in a statistical way. That’s the burden a crisis manager carries.

What are the possible futures of covid19 ?

Author: Manu Steens

In this article I am writing my own opinion, not that of any organization.

Some time ago I read the book “Handboek Scenarioplanning-Toekomstscenario’s als strategisch instrument voor het managen van onzekerheid” (Handbook Scenario Planning-Future Scenarios as a strategic instrument for managing uncertainty). That book has worked on me like a red rag on a bull. It inspired me to apply the first steps of the procedure discussed in the book. I think that a productive result can be presented very quickly when going through those first steps: a crisis anticipation team can be used in any crisis center. How do I see that? As the procedure prescribes, I start from 2 axes with, in my opinion, a lot of impact and a lot of uncertainty:

  1. Disease flare-up vs further disease decline
  2. The hospital system breakdown vs the hospital system stays upright

This gives rise to four scenario’ s as follows :

  1. Further decline of the disease and the hospital system stays upright : “Road to freedom”
  2. Flare-up of the disease and the hospital system stays upright: “We survive”
  3. Further reduction of the disease and the hospital system collapses: “Delayed stress and PTSD”
  4. Flare of the disease and the hospital system collapses: “Doomsday” scenario.

Figure:

Only one scenario has been extensively proclaimed and explained in the media : the “Road to freedom”.

This can be brave, but one lesson identified that can be predicted from this is that a CAT (Crisis Anticipation Team) should work on developing the other 3 scenarios.

At the moment it is known that hospitals are groaning under the load of covid19 . Other illnesses are delayed for treatment. This entails separate future aspects that are already known and recognized in previous waves, and of which we already know that we will be confronted with them:

-> Postponement of non-urgent treatment results in an overrun of the hospital system with severe non-covid19 cases after the covid19 crisis, regardless of which scenario of the 4 we face.     

-> After the “Road to freedom” scenario, the scenario “Delayed stress & PTSD” can still occur with a high probability. This with a lower uncertainty of occurrence over time. So it would be logical that society, on a global level, should take measures to this end.     

-> This situation can also occur after the “We survive” scenario.     

-> I don’t even want to talk about the “Doomsday scenario”, because then there is no workable hospital system left. Although a “Doomsday scenario” may also occur in varying degrees, as a series of slow-falling dominoes in terms of falling short for hands on the beds .     

Conclusion: a crisis anticipation team can, in my opinion, devote itself with the greatest efficiency and effectiveness to preparing for a failure of the hospital system, when the hands on the beds start to fall short, for example due to burnout and other work-related illnesses.

In order to find solutions, we have to look thoroughly on the labor market for who can do what. A relaxation in job provision to migrants could possibly help? Those of them with medical experience may be able to contribute to the solutions. Or people who are still studying can, as under part of an internship, deal with the more simple tasks of some professionals who then receive the task of “hands on the bed in ICU.”

I hope I’m wrong. Either way, it will never be easy.

Ultimately, if citizens really want to opt for the “Road to freedom” scenario, they will have to exercise a lot of discipline themselves. Because the virus does not adhere to any rules.

Support as one of the unpredictabilities during Covid19 to be tackled

Author: Manu Steens

In this article I am writing my own opinion, not that of any organization.

Recently I read the book “Bruggen naar het onvoorspelbare (Bridges to the unpredictable)” ( Aimé Heene , 2016), and now I don’t know whether to write a review or a blog piece. For the time being I will stick to a blog, because it inspired me together with the previous book that I read (“Handboek Scenarioplanning”, Mario van Rijn and René van der Burgt , 2019) and with the situation of the corona crisis. A review is still possible later.

My personal idea is that we have to deal with a very clear unpredictability that may be turning negative: support from the population.

Let me make a comparison:

In the 1700s AD there was a lot of hunger in England. There was therefore a lot of theft of food. The punishments became more and more cruel, and after a few years the death penalty for stealing a loaf of bread became something banal. It didn’t scare people, many hungry street children died on the scaffold.

Also at Covid 19 , stricter punishment and more original checking will not help to create intrinsic support. (Fines of 4000 € for a party organizer? So why not the death penalty :-)) Moreover, the comparison indicates that extrinsic support will no longer work in the long term. As a result, I had the idea to do stakeholder management by involving stakeholders more.

” How ?” you will ask.

To create a vision for the future in a more scientific way with the aim of exploring how we should tackle the problem with public support. Not so much by inventing new techniques, there are already enough of them. More to make the right recommendations for creating a motivated support base. In the future  that depends on that same future. That can only be addressed according to me by involving the stakeholders.

So ‘how’ is the question . Prof. Heene’s book gave me inspiration in this by reminding me of the possibility of future scenarios. By means of strategic stakeholder dialogue. Difficult term.

Futures explorations with stakeholders are needed in 2 ways: (not necessarily both with the same stakeholders)

  • A stakeholder dialogue in the breadth that explores the wider society.
  • An in-depth stakeholder dialogue that explores the most relevant unpredictabilities and extracts strategic alternatives.

The purpose of the survey is to increase knowledge of the ecosystem in which the target group operates, and thereby to identify key uncertainties and unpredictabilities. As the target part of their own ecosystem within society, they must actively be involved.

In a first phase, the group identifies the key factors that can determine society: trends, evolutions, environmental factors of all kinds.

In a second phase, the organizer of the exercise quantifies the impacts of the uncertainty of all kinds of environmental factors with scores. The key unpredictabilities (potentially greatest impact and with greatest unpredictability) are retained for the in-depth dialogue. This in-depth dialogue continues with these key unpredictabilities from the broad outlook for the future.

Possibly the stakeholder group should be reconsidered now and limited to a relevant group because of a smaller focus in terms of themes to be looked at. The experts who must do the deepening of themes should sit at the table. The target group should also be at the table in this regard. The situation of similar problems in neighboring countries can also be examined. After all, “when it rains in Paris, it drips in Brussels”, etc. Scenario planning is a useful method for this in-depth dialogue .

The two most important key unpredictabilities each form an axis for a total of four quadrants, each with a scenario.

Subsequently, the participants work out the scenarios together based on their background and knowledge. In this way 4 distinct visions of the future arise from the experience and knowledge of the participants.

Concrete recommendations can follow from this.

  • The no- brainers that apply to all scenarios.
  • The thinkers that are scenario dependent.

These recommendations may or may not be implemented as measures.

A possible reason for this approach is the (rapid?) change in the situation of the support base. That support is unpredictable and therefore forces us to look ahead.

“ Wait and see ” is no longer an option. The current social changes also require a more 360 ​​° view of this situation. By involving stakeholders (the target group), the government anticipates the gaps it has (now and in the future) in order to know the substance of this matter.

As an extension of this, any organization that takes itself seriously (and has the resources to do so) could try to set up a crisis anticipation team , which looks further into the future, to explore a number of possible futures so that there are fewer unexpected turns.

One problem I already see after all is that the countries are at times in other phases. Suppose hypothetically that a country gets the problem solved, then the situation in the EU is such that the chances are realistic that the infections will just be coming back from another country.

So we have to look ahead. Anticipate. Collaborate and explore futures.

Hence my motto is “anticipate, anticipate, anticipate!”

Some additional topics for further anticipation are:

  • The economic consequences for society and the state finances of current and future generations.
  • The psychological impact of this crisis on youth and possibly future generations, and those who can give support starting now. Also by analyzing matters scientifically.
  • The restart for the hospitality & catering industry: what drastic measures are further needed for the survival of this sector. What can they do to redefine themselves?
  • The approach to vaccinations and associated (communication) strategy after the crisis, because in my opinion there is almost no other option than to make a regular new corona injection against new variants compulsory in order to keep the disease at bay. So one must think beforehand how to tackle this.
  • Crises in the periphery that can develop further unseen, because all the focus of awareness (too much for many) is now on Covid19. How about drought? Terror threat? Climate in general? Other illnesses? You hardly hear anything anymore.
  • What other themes may be relevant, they must not be forgotten in the aftercare phase. The aftercare phase itself should also not be forgotten and one should start thinking about it now. It may not take that long operationally, because a new normal situation is coming, but it is all the more important to continue to guide the aftercare of the strategic crisis, because we do not yet know that new normal.
  • All organizations must start to see and recognize and use opportunities in the crisis. At the moment there is a lot of focus on the negative, that is human. But that should not be / remain the only thing.

Hence anti-fragility will be the new resilience in the new normal.

In order not to lose relevance, I quote here a quote from the movie “Mr Brooks”:

“… Give me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change, courage to change the things that I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” (Evans)