Scenario planning lessons from the Russian meteor.

By Amber Hudson and Luke Sklar

The Russian Chelyabinsk meteor got us all sitting up a little straighter.  We’re all knotted up with worry over what’s happening on the ground…now we have to fret over what’s falling from the sky?  But should we really worry?  Or was this meteor the cosmic equivalent of an acorn falling on Chicken Little’s head and the sky is indeed not falling.

Well, Russia is taking this event seriously, announcing it will fast-track $2 billion for “asteroid defense”. Probably smart since the 2 biggest known cosmic events have inexplicably happened in Russia (the other one was back in 1908, known as the Tunguska incident).  But if they announced this 10 years ago they would have been dismissed at nutbar alarmists.  Then again, if they had done this 10 years ago they we now be muttering a snarky “told you so”.

There are events called black swans that are random and difficult to predict but have massive consequences.  Like the Chelyabinsk meteor.  In his book The Black Swan, Nassim Taleb says don’t attempt to predict these events but rather build a plan to deal with negative events and exploit positive ones.   Too bad Best Buy, Blockbuster, Sony and the newspaper industry weren’t able to heed his advice.  With our short memory spans we quickly forget about the last event, and end up stunned when another one hits.   So the moral of the story is you can’t predict all the meteors headed towards your business, but you must have a plan if they hit.  Yeah, some folks will laugh. But wouldn’t you rather be the one having the last laugh…?