The majority of people either panic or ignore the possibility that a crisis is developing. But that needs to change, unless we want doomsday scenarios to manifest in the future. Watch this really interesting short video with David J. Ellwood, Dean of Harvard Kennedy School of Government, talking to The World Economic Forum about redesigning risk response:
Why do we see a crisis coming, sometimes even have the solution, but as human beings, or nations, seem unable to do anything about it? Why don’t we act but opt for worrying or ignoring the issues? By doing so, these crises could develop into catastrophes.
One reason is that we are short-sighted and blame others. Another is how businesses react if they know that they will be asked to make a sacrifice to sort out the problem. They then swiftly come up with statements such as “science isn’t very clear..” Recognize it?
But sometimes we act in time and solve problems. The hole in the ozone layer is an example. The picture of the hole made the problem visible and US multinational DuPont came up with an incentive to work with governments and NGOs to find solutions.
How do you create leaders that respond to risks by finding solutions?
Leaders have to react in time and be able to ignore their aversion to acknowledging danger.
A lot of young people all over the world are keen to step up to the plate. But it’s expensive to learn and they don’t earn very much once they have graduated. So we need to find ways to make it worth their while.
They need to know about incentives, markets, risks and politics. And not to forget, public management. So, apart from studying, they also need to get out and deal with real problems. An understanding of the economics and politics of different issues facing us is crucial. Ellwood put it the following way, “The frontiers of education gives us the opportunity to get to the frontier of the acting in time problem”, and added, “if we can train both existing leaders and people who aspire to become leaders to take on the really hard future challenges with the tools to do so, we can meet and avoid the future crises we see coming but are not acting upon today”.
Is Ellwood right that we need to develop a new kind of leader that knows how to respond? Do you agree that panicking or ignoring crises have to stop? That leaders need to learn to deal with the problems we know we will face? Is it time to start thinking long-term and stop closing our eyes to what will develop into a crisis if we ignore it?
Video: World Economic Forum – Picture: Billy Gast