Hindsight is the new foresight

THE floods have caused an extensive commentary on the response cycles of stakeholders, and led to continued crisis communications and statements in the media by agencies and ministries alike.

This binary approach has created an “us and them” situation, when there should only be a “we” in a crisis of this nature.

Putrajaya should take this opportunity to actively listen and embrace the process instead of being anxious about the ongoing commentary and social media comments.

This is free business intelligence, especially if the business model is keeping people happy and safe. Do not let critical data end up like flood waters – into the oceans or back into the soil.

The challenge will be to organise the information into a framework. And for this to take place, there needs to be a reference for the narrative – a ground zero.

This framework needs to run the width of all agencies and ministries at all levels for the federal and state governments. Then, it needs to be multiplied by the depth of an analysis that includes an understanding of litany, social and systemic causes, the impact of worldview and myths that shape the metaphors that are deeply woven into culture and history.

The Causal Layered Analysis is an approach and technique used in foresight to develop desired and possible futures. It is pioneered by Professor Sohail Inayatullah.

Designing a desired future often sees its catalyst in the eye of a crisis when used in future studies. It is also a much-needed starting point.

Moving forward, how will corporate leaders address critical questions in a business ecosystem that has been increasingly defined by crisis?

The floods have seen the private sector play an increasingly important role.

They handle, in particular, the supply chains that deliver food, water and essential items. Therefore, they need to be recognised as a critical stakeholder and included in each step of the process, from planning, roll-outs and monitoring to reviewing of each crisis.

As the collective conscious of the nation grabs the proverbial elephant in the room, there is a need to take a step back and view the overall problem with open eyes. Each crisis is deeper and wider than initially imagined.

Social media analysis shows, in the mind of the public, that the line in the sand has shifted. It was once enough to “respond to crisis”, now the new baseline is to “resolve a crisis”.

Between responding and resolving is a considerable difference in resources required. No doubt, millions have been spent. However, when faced with the wrath of Mother Nature, exacerbated by climate change, clearly billions – not millions – are required.

Retained organisational learning is key to unlocking the much-discussed resilience. National Disaster Management Agency will require this.

Imagine a repository of knowledge and talent better enabled to coordinate with and respond to all stakeholders – public and private, community and international.

Looking forward, as we begin to wrestle with 2022, better decisions within the sphere of crisis management will be gleamed at the intersection of data science, applied foresight models, deeper stakeholder understanding, behavioural communications and meaningful resource allocation. – January 11, 2022.

* Nordin Abdullah is Malaysia Global Business Forum founding chairman.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.

Sign up or sign in here to comment.