Over 60% of the worldwide population of antelopes died over the course of a few weeks, and scientists have just recently discovered the cause. In May 2015 over 200,000 antelope died suddenly – and it was not the first time for widespread deaths of this species.

Researchers have learned that it was due to blood poisoning — triggered by bacteria that had been present in all the antelopes without consequences – until above average humidity and temperatures occurred during calving season and triggered the fatal reaction.

This has me thinking how there can be disastrous consequences that we can’t even foresee. We make assumptions based on the way things are now but have no idea how another factor may totally change the scenario. Scientists knew there were a limited number of antelopes. They knew this bacteria already lived in all of them. But who knew the warm weather would activate it and kill them all?

I think we make assumptions like that in organizations, too. Our business model is working but then 9/11 occurs. Our organization has a donor plan but then the tax law changes. Our organization is thriving – in Houston, Puerto Rico, California, et al – until Mother Nature strikes.

The antelope example illustrates that organizations need to plan – and plan for various scenarios – as well as monitor trends and conditions that could cause the driving assumptions to change.

Don’t count on the future arriving in a linear fashion.

Thanks, Meg.

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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