What is the value of thinking about the second question?

In an old fave TV Series of mine, Rumpole of the Bailey used to advise “never ask a question unless you know the answer”. Alright – indeed important – in some contexts, but not realistic when dealing with matters of high uncertainty.

Uncertainty is like the proverbial onion. Layered with complexities which can be best unlocked by asking the right questions. Hence the importance of the “second question” … and the third … and so on into the void.

The failure to “ask the second question” – to treat uncertainty like an onion – was illustrated in an article featured in this Weekend’s Financial Review (‘Pod shortage lifts building costs’, by Michael Bleby, page 12) – see below.

I was surprised that this was a surprise. It ought not have been “all of a sudden”. Simple and fundamental models of sound business continuity are based on asking “the second question” – especially regarding elements outside of your direct control such as suppliers and outsource partners (as depicted below).

Another timely reminder and straightforward lesson for us all.

Author: John Salter Consulting Services

John Salter - owner of John Salter Consulting Services - specialising in the facilitation of risk-based capability reviews; needs-based training; business continuity planning; crisis management exercises; and organisational debriefing. Recognised for “preventing disasters, or where that is not possible, reducing the potential for harm” Ref: Barrister H Selby, Inquest Handbook, 1998. Distracted by golf, camping, fishing, reading, red wine, movies and theatre.

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