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.