When I go on a holiday, I sometimes see a group of boy scouts or girl scouts in the same uniform. The Scout movement began in the U.K. more than 100 years ago for the purpose of supporting children in their sound development. The motto of this movement is “Be Prepared.”
If you go camping outdoors, you might run into unexpected situations, such as a sudden change in the weather, or getting lost or getting out of condition due to the unfamiliar environment. To stay calm and act properly even in such situations, I hear that boy and girl scouts always train themselves in a wide variety of aspects on a daily basis. I feel that what underlies their training is the spirit of “Be Prepared.”
Is this attitude working in the business world? In some cases, you might be so eager to move a project forward that you make hasty decisions, resulting in a failure to identify the project’s possible risks. In other cases, you might ignore the worst-case scenario that could happen, pretending as if there were no risks that could lead to such a scenario. Because of a limited amount of resources that can be used to respond to risks, you might even sometimes postpone doing what you should.
When typhoon No. 19 (Vongfong) approached Japan recently, some railway companies announced the cancellation of their railway services at an early stage in areas expected to be directly hit by the typhoon. This decision gained much attention from the general public in Japan. Since it was expected that the cancellation would substantially affect a wide range of society and economic activities, it must have been very difficult to make that decision. Without changing their policy of placing priority on ensuring passenger safety, however, the railway companies made a calm decision based on their rules established in advance.
It is difficult for companies to identify when to make decisions with consideration on minimizing damage to their customers and also themselves. It is hard to make appropriate decisions in times of emergency, and in many cases, postponing a decision could result in irreparable damage. In this regard, I believe that it is very effective to simulate the possible worst-case scenario that could happen in an emergency during ordinary times, based on the spirit of “Be Prepared.”