Avoiding Catastrophe Is Easier Than Fixing It

People often make decisions because they feel good. They could be as simple as which new car or which vacation> In the case of businesses and governments, they could be complex.

Businesses must address the likely future of the marketplace and their competitors, while governments often think politically and are driven by ideological ideas.

Businesses tend to do second and third-stage thinking, while some people and governments do not. The defence to starting the timer on the catastrophe is simple enough. Thomas Sowell has been promoting it for decades. Set Godin provided a useful argument yesterday. Ask and work hard to derive answers to three questions. Here is Seth’s article

Three more questions

Pronouncements are more common than ever.

It might be an insurgent announcing a way to change the government, a CEO with a bold new plan or an entrepreneur seeking funds. Or perhaps it’s a pundit or a critic, hard at work. Pronouncements are bold, definitive and dramatic, but they also seem to defy common sense.

If you’re actually proposing something thoughtful and practical, perhaps you could answer three questions:

    1. And then what happens? After we take this action, after you shut down that agency, eliminate that division or launch this new project, what will happen after that?
    2. How will that work? What are the mechanics involved, the ones that don’t suspend the laws of physics or organizational behavior that will support this new way forward?
    3. Why? Can you explain, beyond your reality-suspending confidence, why the system will respond to your approach?

It’s entirely possible that this is precisely the change we need and the change that will work. But when the pronouncer refuses to answer the questions, it should give the rest of us pause.

Most catastrophic failures can be minimized, if not avoided, and any great successes improve their odds of happening by digging into the three questions.

The enemy of every meaningful project is its secondary effects. Unintended consequences. Some may happen at the third or even the fourth layer of questioning. The greatest enemy of workable conditions is a promoter who is interested in the idea and his personal prestige from implementing it. Most of those decisions are based on what should happen, not what will happen.

A suggestion for governments. Every project costing more than some low threshold amount must have a three-question assessment attached. In recent times you could wonder how long would Covid lockdowns, school closures, vaccine mandates and suppression of treatment protocols have lasted had the government had to answer the three questions?

When they don’t have to validate their projects, they have no need to search for better alternatives and every incentive to double down on their choice rather than admit a mistake.

I build strategic, fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate and effective ways to achieve spending and estate distribution goals.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email at don.shaughnessy@gmail.com.

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