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  • Writer's pictureMuzammil Hussain

Trends, Uncertainties and Resilience

This article is not about "How to build resilience". It is to portray our thought processes and setting the right attitude towards building resilience.

Moderately sunny during morning and daytime, cloudy afternoon, and rainfall in the evening – a usual picture of a day in the city of technocrats, Bangalore. We can call it a “Trend”, repeating over a period of time, in a pattern. Aware of this trend, I went out one afternoon, riding a bike, to run some errands and return before it starts pouring. But it was an unlucky day as it started raining in not more than 5 minutes of leaving the house; the result was that I was stuck mid-way. This was an “Uncertainty” that I did not prepare for. So, to be prepared, I started keeping a raincoat handy.

But, yet again, once it rained so heavily that it was not possible to ride even with a raincoat. What would you call this situation? Was it an uncertainty? Yes. Was I prepared as per my experience? Yes. Still, something happened that defeated my preparedness. This is the idea that I want to highlight – our preparedness is limited to the experiences that we have had or can think of, which is again based on our experiences. There cannot be a situation in which one can say that s(h)e is 100% prepared to face any (adverse) situation. If somebody or some organization does so, I think they are creating a barrier to their own progress.

Seasonal demand-supply fluctuation is a trend, while unprecedented pent-up demand is uncertainty, that happened (rather, is happening) during the current coronavirus pandemic. While few firms were resilient enough to function and recover, most firms were staring down the barrel helplessly. Eventually, many had to shut down, many faced huge losses, and there was loss of jobs worldwide. The question is – Why did this happen? Pandemic is not something we are not aware of. There have been numerous such unfortunate occurrences in history. While it can be said that the firms that withstood the situation, did prepare for “uncertainties”, it cannot be ignored to ponder – “Were they prepared enough?”, or did they just had a narrow escape and would have failed, had the situation been slightly more extreme.

On the other hand, it can be easily concluded that the firms that failed had not learned from the past and were un-prepared. But, are we sure of our conclusion? Maybe that unlike the successful ones, they just missed the safety mark by a narrow margin, despite preparations. The point is that nobody knows what is the best level of resilience to build. In this fast-changing world, powered by technology, the assumptions and parameters with which we begin to build a system or process to cater to long-term safety net or resilience, changes, bringing us almost back to the start.

What is the solution? I would say – Nothing. Nothing to completely avoid such scenarios, nothing to completely prevent the occurrence of such scenarios, and nothing to be 100% sure that we have a completely fail-proof “preparedness”. But we can have solution(s) to minimize such failures, by believing that we are vulnerable, and our processes and systems are vulnerable, and spending time in learning from the successful ones and improving constantly.

The ideal thought should not be, “I have finally arrived”, instead it should be, “What next?”

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