“We all were part of the problem. Yes, we made a severe error in judgement, but our real sin was not communicating with one another.” Mason P.
Everyone fears a wildfire, but it is of greatest concern for people who live in a desert environment. The fire’s fuel—trees and plants—are the perfect fodder because of the dryness. Desert winds can turn a small fire into a disaster because of its ability to quickly spread out of control. The worse the fire, the greater the risk.
The air in Phoenix, Arizona, that day was so pungent my nose hurt. The sun was hidden by a hazy greyness because of a wildfire burning many kilometres away that was currently under control. Despite the smell and artificial darkness, I now had another analogy to explain enterprise risk management (ERM), which I used to start the session.
“Do any of you recall the Smokey the Bear public service announcements?” Several hands went up. For those who were not familiar with the Smokey the Bear PSAs, I explained that the long-running ad campaign in the United States features the iconic, hat-wearing Smokey Bear. He advocates for the prevention of wildfires through personal responsibility and the slogan, “Remember ...only YOU can prevent forest fires.”
As a child I did not understand Smokey’s message. I wondered how I could prevent something beyond my control. That’s the fireman’s job. With more wisdom I understood his real message. Smokey was reminding me that I needed to do things to ensure that ...