We live in a risk averse world. These days, whenever something of significance is announced, one can find a million dissenting voices that threaten to drown the ones that support them. Living in North America and working in oilsands, I am no foreigner to these type of voices. Anything we do, or not do, are analyzed with a nanoscopic lens and criticized heavily. You want a new road, NO. You want to upgrade the airport, NO. You want a new vehicle, NO. You want a new home, why? NO. Everything ends in a resounding and relentless NO.
Why have we become a generation of naysayers. Where is the flying cars that were promised to us in science fiction? Where is the space exploration campaigns exploring new worlds? Where is the promise of time travel? In a rhetoric accentuated by paralysis by analysis, our time in this world will be known by what we haven’t done or failed to do.
Read the news today. All we can see is tales of leaders who have failed to act when it is needed, tales of big business and their countless and meaningless mergers and acquisitions, an impatient shareholder community that is risk averse and focussed on quarterly profits, startups that promise too much in the beginning only to be brought by bigger business and shutdown later, only because the founders did not have the spine for the long haul.
This picture is absolutely not right and extremely frightening. We are creating a culture of being absolutely and extremely risk averse. I have worked as a Process Safety Engineer and we believe in executing work by understanding the base risk and installing safeguards to make the risk as low as reasonably possible and then executing it. But what we do see today is that, people are scared of the risk associated with any task or project, that they shy away from planning or even executing it.
Oilsands development is a classic example of human ignorance. Here we have one of the largest natural crude oil deposits in the world, second only to Saudi Arabia (based on the current extraction methods). This valuable resource is highly important and valuable in the onward march of human progress and development. The struggles this industry faces from environmentalists and vested interests to deny its development has been well documented earlier in this blog. Rather than assemble together as a team focussed on the sustainable extraction and development of this valuable resource, the debate has veered to its total decimation and its harmful effects to environment.
‘Fortune favors the brave’ is a belief that I have believed since childhood. It exhorts us to go ahead and do something. Whatever or whoever you are, think about something great and DO IT rather than say NO and back off. ‘Just Do It’ is a famous tagline by NIKE that was coined in 1988. Nelson Mandela used to exhort by the following saying, “It is always impossible, till it is done”. I believe it is easier to say something is impossible, but the sense of satisfaction that one receives after getting something done is simply unparalleled.
Concluding, before we say NO or it is not possible, let us for a minute think, WHY NOT?