What We Know that Ain’t So

This is the true story of how a multinational company successfully avoided a business crisis. The moral of the story applies as well to government as it does to industry.

An event that threatens a business’s survival is a crisis. Not every crisis arrives with a neon light announcing “Crisis! Crisis!” Sometimes, like a cancer, it grows slowly. Did Sears pay attention when Sam Walton opened his first store? Did General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler worry when Japanese econoboxes came to America in the 1970s? Based on results, apparently not. Today Wal-Mart is seven times the size of Sears, and GM, Ford, and Chrysler are desperately fighting for their lives.

One reason why we fall prey to crises: We think we are prepared and we think we know what to do, and we are wrong. What we know ain’t so.

We have two options to learn what we know that ain’t so. One is to wait for a crisis and discover what’s so and what ain’t. That’s the very expensive way. The other is to proactively uncover it before a crisis hits. In other words, preparedness.