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Letters to a Young Manager


Where were you?, #475
LTYM > Crisis



Dear Sophie,
***
There are few events that stay in our minds as significant milestones, with an emphasis on "stone." They may divide our personal, organizational or national history as surely as a wall divides the left and the right.

I can remember exactly where I was and how I heard of President Kennedy's assassination or the 911 terrorist attacks. I also remember Neil Armstrong's first step on the moon and the ticker tape parade in NY when the scaffolding fell on us (see story 454). I could go on, but you get the picture.

The big events that are ingrained in our minds can be positive or negative. But the crises or major disasters we encounter are indelible. When I visited my grandfather's birthplace in Marktbreit in the Bavaria region of southern Germany, I noticed lines etched on columns and building corners with dates that went back hundreds of years (see below). I realized after photographing these that they were the major floods, when the Main river had flooded the city. The lines showed how high the water got. Some of the floods were catastrophically deep.

When you think about your personal history, or that of your organization, where would you draw the lines? And how would you tell the stories about them?
***
Sincerely yours,
Ed
________________________


Takeaways:

Event markers divide our lives and organizations into chapters

Discussion Questions:

Start with the questions in the letter:
1) When you think about your personal history, or that of your organization, where would you draw the lines?
2) How would you tell the stories about them?
3) Which of the stories and positive and which are negative?
4) Can a crisis be a positive event? An opportunity?

For Further Reading:

See the Wikipedia for "The Chinese Word for Crisis," and the concept of danger and opportunity, despite the debate about the meaning of the Mandarin characters.




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