The world is like the fruit paw paw; sweet, nutritious and delicate. Unfortunately, sweetness is not an attribute of the paw paw leaf. Suffice it to say that the paw paw tree is a crisis plant oozing with bitter sweet experiences. The world today is no different from the paw paw tree as it is being overtaken by an avalanche of ground breaking innovations and crisis. Every facet of human existence has one or multiple variants.
In simple terms, crisis is a call to either be broken or rebuild. Remember that the same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg. The negativity associated with the term – crisis – is an injustice to all the good that have been brought by it. Politics, business and the economy have over the years benefited from crisis because it compels us as a people to do things differently- be more strategic, prudent, tolerant and of course open minded enough to learn. Candidly, it is inevitable that human society will disagree on several fronts and; that several things we genuinely never imagined will happen in our immediate and remote environments. There are those crises that leave us with no options as in the case of natural disasters and every unreasonably foreseeable one; and there are the manmade crises which are essentially a breakdown in the process of social negotiations, minor disagreements and possibly armed conflict. What matters is most important is what we do when they happen. It is absolutely impossible to ignore or airbrush the pains, sufferings and hardships of the casualties because they are usually enormous and sadly, nothing can be done other than the attempt to continually provide succor to those that have lost.
There is no scarcity in history to show that there crisis can be beneficial to us.The Second World War for example brought about a stronger world to manage peace. HSBC swam the murky waters of rising cost and regulatory changes by simplifying the bank, Nokia reprogrammed for growth to address its challenge of 96% drop in market capitalization, Groupe PSA’s revamped product line after a loss of $7.9 billion in 2012 and 2013. Then there are those companies that didn’t survive their share of crisis simply because they didn’t learn how to do things differently. Napoleon Bonaparte’s illustrious military career and strategy is celebrated because he did things differently. Crisis though difficult and frustrating, are opportunities for choices to be made; and those choices will either make us stronger or destroy us. We must therefore make a conscious decision to survive. Somalia, Libya and Liberia are building back. South Africa chose peace and have survived the apartheid regime and Rwanda is a modern day bright spot on the positive possibilities of life after crisis.
Crisis is resident at the micro level of our world and will never go into extinction. As a nation, corporation, family and even individuals, we must deal with it in a way that we can live with the aftermath. The story of General Sanders aptly drives this home; a new highway bypassed his lucrative restaurant which forced him to sell at a loss leaving him with a monthly security check of $105. This occurred when he was well above 60 years of age and was not the life he envisaged for himself. What did he do? He started a road trip on which he visited restaurants with his recipe and kitchen utensils making his signature fried chicken and signed lots of deals in the process. Fast forward to 1965, he sold his proprietary rights for a whooping $2million.
Nigeria has had her own share of crisis – survived the civil war, battling the poverty and population crisis as well as the notorious one called corruption. The choice is the same: do things differently and survive or continue in the monotonous circle and go under. As a country, we must learn from and improve on the mistakes of our past and never go back to those things. It means we have to look and think differently, procure differently (processes). There is so much divisiveness in the system, so let us begin to view ourselves and relate differently (with tolerance and respect). Since our electioneering processes is marred with crisis, we must choose our leadership differently. There are security breaches internally and at our borders; it is fine; all we have to do is adopt a different, more result oriented approach to security that is peculiar to us. Singapore is dubbed the New York of Asia because it does things differently. So different that it is arguably the safest city in the world. What does it bring to the table? Strong regulatory framework, modern and well capitalized financial market, political stability, high integrity and the protection of the sanctity of contracts.
The African experience and the laws of nature undoubtedly obfuscates the concept of a crisis free world but we must make sense of the lessons learnt because the world is earnestly begging for a break from crisis, so let’s put it in our diary to do things differently. Take the front seat in the conversation on climate change, adopt new safe and sustainable business models and place maximum value on human life. We must move forward but really need a marginal platform upon which to progress so that we do not get trapped in the past considering the magnitude of promise that the future holds; that platform remains a rational you. Enjoy the paw paw fruit and avoid the leaf to the best of your ability.