Atrophy of Vigilance

It seems governments and agencies around the world were mostly unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic.

Whilst contingency plans may have existed on paper, preparedness exercises supposedly seeing sporadic testing, response appears to have relied mainly on luck. Whose scientists random modelling most closely guessed the unguessable. Population subservience to military containment. The existence of a regional cell of health excellence being fortuitously set in their backyard. Even the weather.

The parts of the world unused to ‘outbreak’ for a whole century, becoming complacent with the thought that in our transformative technological age, believing no significant threat was now posed from a new virus on the loose.

The consequence being that any such Ministry of Doom expenditure had dwindled to a broom cupboard sized office, housing solely an unmonitored answerphone at best.

This effect has a name; the atrophy of vigilance.

Where you feel that ‘you’ve got a system in place, and you’re either slipping away from it or no longer check it’s in full working order’.

As the ‘googlesnippet’ text above states;

Freudenburg [1992] proposes two major mechanisms that cause the atrophy of vigilance within organisations responsible for the safety of hazardous systems. … In the absence of a disaster, they eventually conclude that some safeguards are unnecessary to maintain system safety.

This represents ‘gradual decline in effectiveness or vigour due to under-use or neglect of the action or state of keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties’.

Discretionary spend seems set to cease. Or at best, the stream turn mere trickle. Any purchase a business makes now subject to all manner of new sign-off routines, authority layers and justification checks.

How can we solution sellers adjust to this strand of the ‘new normal’?

Are we even thinking about it yet?

If you sell wares with any protective element there may be a clear shock alignment route.

What proportion of your prospect’s cost allocation is set aside for insurance-type payments? How do they rebalance their transfer of risk? Mitigate against any possible unsavoury hit?

Any reduction of risk is widely recognised as a value-adding activity. For whom is that a focus now?

Before novel viruses entered our psyche, this phenomenon was commonly ascribed to aircraft disaster. (Note the swiss cheese theory for instance and development checks allegedly unheeded around the pair of Boeing 737-MAX crashes.)

Now there’s an unwelcome event that affects us all we must align with to protect our clients in the coming days.

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