Hindsight and 20/20 vision

Hindsight and 20/20 vision

Marks Musings - February 2023

By Mark Harris, CrisisFit® Crisis Management Lead and Advisor with Sheena Thomson Consulting.

It is a truism that is looking back on thinking that occurred some time ago, we will identify theories and policies that are now recognised for being flawed or even totally wrong against present-day thinking.

Clearing through years of accumulated stuff at home, I came across a battered copy of 'Baby and Child Care' probably dating from the '60s. In the chapter on breastfeeding, the author seeks to reassure that "the mother can lead a normal life". One sentence in this section screamed out at me, "There is no evidence that it will harm the baby if the mother drinks coffee or tea, smokes, uses alcoholic beverages in moderation, or goes in for athletics."

Having checked the UK's National Health Service's website regarding smoking and consuming alcohol while breastfeeding is not recommended as both nicotine and alcohol can be introduced to the baby through the breast milk which can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome among other potential health damaging risks to the baby.

Along a similar theme from around the same time, the development and introduction of thalidomide to medical practitioners was lauded as a wonder drug for pregnant women suffering from chronic morning sickness.  It tragically proved the risk of side effects must be thoroughly tested through robust clinical testing.

While it is extremely important to review the past and learn lessons, and self-correct how we do things, particularly where public safety is concerned, we should not find ourselves in a position whereby we are being directed by the legacy.  The risk is if we continue to drive while our gaze is fixed on the rear-view mirror, we will crash. In the case of these various risks to pregnant women, they revealed themselves as we changed our consumer consumption habits, and a progressive forward-looking way of working and behavioural change ensued.

·       This approach is entirely applicable to issue and crisis management too. In a nutshell:

·       Understand what happened

·       Identify what gaps or mistakes there were in your response,

·       Revise your plans

·       Rehearse your teams

·       Communicate and implement with wider stakeholders

Following these simple guidelines will demonstrate openness and progressiveness to issues and risks as they emerge and improve your organisation's resilience in fine-tuning and enhancing and protecting your reputation.

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