No one can predict the future, much to the chagrin of many economists and financial theorists and their media acolytes, who prefer assumptions of perfect knowledge and decision-making in all circumstances.
I’m breaking my deliberate policy of not commenting on political issues this week in order to comment on reactions to the Boston Marathon bombings last Monday. My personal opinion is that the response of government and law enforcement agencies at all levels has been brilliant in the circumstances. However, there are already Monday Morning Quarterbacks saying that the government overreacted by shuttingn down Boston on Friday and part of Saturday. The problem is that the ones responsible for making these decisions can only plan and act based on information available at the time and the factors they felt they needed to consider. Just throwing out there that they overreacted without knowing those things is pure speculation based on specious counterfactuals or a personal hobby horse. If there is something I learned from a 26-year military career and my study of military strategy and history, it is that decisions that can look sub-optimal in hindsight may have been the best at the time given the circumstances of friction, uncertainty, and the fog of war. In this particular case, only a full after-action review will permit the systemic learning to occur. Saying it was an overreaction is nothing but pure hindsight bias.
The more complex and risky the undertaking, the more likely that friction will wreak havoc. We must compensate by building robustness, resiliency and redundancy into our plans and systems.
From the Vault
A Superb Example of Crisis Leadership in Action
By the way…
My ideas were featured in the March 25th Globe and Mail: A military approach to business.
Richard Martin is a consultant, speaker, and executive coach. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.
© 2013 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.