Here is a story that resonated with me. It reminded me a lot of the crisis consulting I do….
A man is flying a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces height and spots a man down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts, "Excuse me. Can you help me? I promised my friend I would meet him half an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am."
The man below says, "Yes, you’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above this field. You are at approximately 42 degrees North latitude and 60 degrees West longitude."
"You must be an engineer," says the balloonist.
"I am," replies the man. "How did you know?"
"Well," says the balloonist, "everything you have told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I am still lost."
The man below says, "You must be a manager."
"I am," replies the balloonist, "but how did you know?"
"Well," says the man below, "you don’t know where you are, or where you are going. You have made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now it is somehow my fault."
When I speak to managers about the need to plan for crises before they happen, they treat my information sparsely and then when the paw-paw strikes the fan, then they want help.
Only when they are lost.