Written Words – Conference Thought (I)

I just heard a presentation on pandemics and influenza and was stopped short by a comment he made. He said the plans La Roche (who made Tamiflu) made before the pandemic allowed the company to make some very difficult decisions during the pandemic.

And I get it. Part of the modern business world / the modern world in general, needs security. You need to know what other actors are going to do so you can plan. there’s value in the certainty.

But something about that bothers me. The first thing that got me was that the plan became the justification for the action. Regardless of if it was a good decision.

So the speaker didn’t say, planning ahead allowed us to make better decisions. The criteria of quality goes out the window. Instead, the speaker uses the plan as a criteria to judge the decision. The plan allows the company to make the decision called for in the plan. It’s self-justified and circular logic.

but I wonder if there’s something deeper there. at first I thought of the “certainty” as having pros and cons. The pro is that the plan allows others to work from it. The con is that the plan doesn’t actually mean better decisions (although the process may help make better decisions), and may even lock an organization into bad decisions.

The more I look at it, the more I think that the pro/con structure, particularly when it comes to disaster management. It’s not that the loss of utility from a poor decision is balanced by the advantage of others knowing what you are going to do. If I move from a pro/con framework to a system framework, this becomes extremely problematic. The system is all interlocking pieces. But what is it built on? An inflexible first decision that, particularly in “preparedness,” may not be the best option. What happens if that first choice changes? The dominoes fall. The house of cards falls.

And it fails because the system emphasizes being able to plan based on the other actors.

In other terms, instead of the con of a poor decision balancing out with the pro of predictability, the nature of the poor decision causes the pros to dissipate.

It’s the nature of an interlocking system built on a bad foundation to collapse.

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