I have to say before I start this piece that I have incredible sympathy for anyone affected by flooding or coastal damage in the past few months. The people involved have become increasingly angry at the apparent lack of action from Government Agencies and indeed politicians. The Somerset Levels have been badly flooded for weeks now and with more rain forecast the situation for them and other parts of the country are looking bleaker and bleaker.
Local people are saying that the lack of investment in dredging rivers has made the problem far worse than it needed to be. The politicians are saying that they only have so much money to spend on flood defences and that they prioritise towns rather than the countryside.
In any business or organisation leaders face a constant barrage of decisions to ensure they invest their available resources into the most appropriate projects. Department managers will fight for the money in a similar way that baby birds fight for food from doting parents. The biggest and loudest usually get more than their fair share and the weakest get less and less with some not surviving.
Good leaders will see through the bluster and ‘selling skills’ of individual managers and ensure the right balance of resources is provided to each department and/or project, to ensure the success of the overall strategy of the business.
The difficulty with business is that it can be very hard to predict the future and just like the weather a long period of sustained ‘difference’ causes severe problems. Some years it is snow, this year it has been rain, and lots of it. More rain since records began!
We do have to accept that we cannot be prepared for every eventuality and on occasions we will find ourselves in a real mess. It is not necessarily that anyone is to blame and there is such a thing (especially when it comes to natural phenomena) as bad luck. Unfortunately those leaders in high office that make the difficult decisions are always in the firing line when things go wrong. It is the actions and the response of leaders in times of crises that people remember.
I have managed large departments and run businesses and know how hard it can be to get it right all the time (you can’t). The UK is run along similar principles and UK plc is one massive business. If we don’t like the way it is being managed then we get the chance every four years to do something about it.
It may sound as though I am saying tough luck to all the people involved in the flooding but I am not! When things do go unexpectedly wrong in business or in life it is how leaders respond to the crisis that really matters. From what I have seen on TV it appears far too little has been done and that is what would make me very angry indeed.