This afternoon I was on my lunchtime walk when I suddenly felt a sharp, pinpoint pain in my heel. I ignored it until my foot hit the ground on the next step and the pain increased significantly. The thought sprang into my mind:
It’s a bee sting
I ripped off my sandal and checked my heel for the sting or signs that I had been stung. I couldn’t find anything. After a careful check, I put the sandal back on and started walking again. Within a couple of steps, the pain has disappeared.
I belong to that group of people who are extremely allergic to bee stings. In my case, a bee sting can mean death, even if that’s not the most likely outcome. In risk management terms, a bee sting for me is a risk of potentially catastrophic consequences.
I’m sure you all expect that I am well prepared and take all steps to mitigate this risk that I have known about for decades. After all, I’ve participated in and led many risk management sessions for organisations and I understand catastrophic consequences.
The realisation came to me that I had no precautions in place at all. I couldn’t even have used the home remedies my mother applied before racing me to the doctor when I was stung as a child.
I still use the same precautions today as I used then, almost four decades ago. I don’t go tramping through flower patches in the spring, I wear footwear when I walk, I don’t go collecting my own honey or visiting bee farms.
For all I know, there may be medications you can carry with you to provide immediate treatment. Maybe there’s a treatment available that vaccinates you against bee sting allergy. At the very least, I can keep some ingredients for the home remedies stocked handy on my shelves.
During the morning I had been writing about the nature of chaotic or disruptive events and possible consequences. I had written about the importance of environmental scanning, the need to think and analyse to create strategy.
Then I walked straight into a potentially chaotic event with catastrophic consequences and discovered I would have failed every test.
My thought for the day: while you may know your catastrophic risks, do you still have the same precautions in place as you did a few years ago? Has the world moved on and are there more effective ways of treating your risk? And when you’ve been analysing your corporate risks, have you taken into account the result of a key member of your team stepping on a bee during their lunchtime walk?
I think tomorrow my walk will take me to a pharmacy and I might ask about treatments for bee stings.
Note: No bees were harmed in the writing of this blog or this afternoon’s walk