Tales of the unexpected.
Looking back over the last two weeks ago I was struck by how much can happen in a very short time and by how much of this was not really expected. I suppose it is a big world with infinite numbers of things going on in it so by the law of averages quite a lot can happen that we don’t expect. In spite of this most of us run our lives, relationships, work and businesses on the basis that nothing unexpected will happen.
Looking at some of the big events one thing that continued entirely as expected is the ongoing tragedy that is Gaza. One side started shooting at the other a few weeks ago, predictably the other side shoots back and away we go again. I find it heart rending to look into the eyes of the children of Gaza on the news knowing that there seems no hope at all of this ever stopping. Inevitably many of those young children will be operating the rocket launchers in 5 years or so – unless something changes. Yet most of the main players involved just keep on doing what they have always done and expect the result to be different. It seems to come as a surprise when yet again civilians do most of the dying and nothing changes.
On the subject of mindless violence what was not expected was the shooting down of the Malaysian Airways airliner over Ukrainian airspace. I suspect that what many, like me, didn’t expect was that airliners were still actually flying over this conflict zone at all. If before passengers boarded the flight they had been told they would be flying over a war zone, just how many would still have boarded the flight I wonder?
This unexpected and tragic event has triggered another unexpected event, namely the EU agreeing to impose tough economic sanctions on the Russians. When I say “agreed” I think they have agreed they will do this. However what they will do, to whom and whether they will actually “do” something is, in the tradition of EU decision making on anything other than the standard length of a cucumber, still ongoing.
If meaningful and tough sanctions really are imposed then this will have unexpected and unpredictable consequences for business, energy supplies, financial markets etc. Putin’s attitude, and his government’s complete disregard for the rule of law meant that this would inevitably blow up in someone’s face eventually. But I wonder how many governments and business had factored this into their dealings with Russia.
Here’s a couple more surprises. Philip Clarke the now outgoing CE of Tesco, said just a few weeks ago that “he wasn’t going anywhere”. It would be reasonable to judge him a little optimistic about his job security, but to be replaced so soon by a man from Unilever who knows nothing about retail? In cricket England Captain Alastair Cook, after a string of poor batting performances and test losses was universally judged to be not up to the job and needed to be replaced, both in the team and as its captain. There was the little matter of a dearth of competent candidates to replace him but you couldn’t argue with the stats. What happened next? Cook scored 95 in his first innings, 70 not out in the second and England won the test convincingly, levelling the series with India.
So as the last two weeks demonstrates the unexpected happens all the time, yet we mostly base our own plans and schemes on what we expect will happen. But can you really plan for something you don’t expect, for something you don’t know is going to happen? Well you can think about what might happen and what you would do to cope with it if it does. You can also “prepare” for the unexpected. Not for a specific event or outcome but by having a mind-set that is ready to respond and to do this fast. The most significant factor in this mind-set is the willingness to accept the new reality the unexpected has created and then to deal with it. And that's easier said than done!
So what are you NOT expecting to happen in the next couple of weeks?
So that was some of the two weeks before this week. I hope you found some of the above thought provoking and useful for you and your business. I trust you had a good weekend and hope you have a great week this week.