What might coming out the other side look like?

The scope of uncertainty in our current – and future times – and across the globe is quite extraordinary. It reaches from health and well being to economic and broader social impacts.
Talk has turned to how we might survive and what the future might look like.
Like a wrecking ball – with domino effects across the globe, and on every household, we are struggling to “define the problem” – let alone “control it”.
There are what I would call “the bleeding obvious” – from workforce pruning and automation increases, to process efficiencies.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be given increase traction – unless compassionate public policy moderates its spread.
General business improvememnt has been a focus of human history since day dot. Resources (things of “use value” which support outputs) have been subjected to ongoing restructuring. Workforce layers we have already seen start disappearing may be gone forever – from the (supermarket) checkout to the serving counter (at McDonald’s).
We are now looking at accelerated, and qualitative, change – as reflected in this set of questions from a recent newspaper article (The Age).
Align these questions and opportunities with the methods being developed by corporate leaders such as Amazon and we are likely to see radical structural design expand across many more supply lines and also infiltrate workplaces.

Beyond the jargon of “petri dish and pivot” there are opportunities in ‘the risk’.

Wherever we start from, I think it is useful to – stealing a Steve Covey line of “end in mind” – be clear about our preferred Outcomes and necessary and sufficient Outputs.

The models and frameworks sketched out below use a “business continuity” context (reflecting some capability development work I am currently doing with a client) – but the thinking can be usefully applied across a range of contexts.

In my search for and development of useful heuristics I was looking for models that started with social needs (outcomes). I fondly redicovered a piece we used “back in the day” (developed by the likes of Kasperson and Kates). I say fondly because it stuck in my mind because of a bemusing typo. It was in the title – “casual” approach – rather than “causal” approach – just one misplaced letter, yet many misplaced meanings.

Nevertheless, a terrfic root cause – and starting point – exploration as it goes back to what we actually need! And at every step of our social and historic path you can readily see the points of difference – between societies, ideologies and technologies.

The generalization of the model allows it to be applied to other contexts.
I have cut and pasted together a comprehensive framework or model (using a business continuity context) which integrates a range of heuristics.
These include the causal approach; conceptualising risk as a function of hazard and vulnerability interfaces; a standard policy framework; and a matrix cross stimulating Hadden’s four Es and FEMA’s Psquared Rsquared.
Hopefully it can support the use of risk perpectives to identify future improvements and opportunities

Heuristics are useful tools – but only that. They can blind you and narrow your perspectives as much as they can open and explore. Use them well (especially iteratively and rigorously with other stakehiolders) and you will see a range of opotions – from walled gardens to open vistas.

The further you either work back to “needs”, or start from “reimagined needs”, the better.

Hopefully, the fruits of this coming era of frugalis may not all be bitter.

Author: Disaster Resilience Consulting

John Salter - owner of Disaster Resilience Consulting - specialising in the facilitation of risk-based capability reviews; needs-based training; business continuity planning; crisis management exercises; and organisational debriefing. Recognised for “preventing disasters, or where that is not possible, reducing the potential for harm” Ref: Barrister H Selby, Inquest Handbook, 1998. Distracted by golf, camping, fishing, reading, red wine, movies and theatre.

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