I love good TV commercials as much as I love good movies and good TV series. But what is amazing about good TV commercials is the way they pack a punch even in the little time that we engage with them! Some witty commercials become part of our folklore and some go even further and give us a nice metaphor to name our mental models.
“Streets are filled with idiots” – I am sure whoever has heard this tag line before, would never forget it. If you haven’t heard it before check it out below:
This was one of the campaigns of CEAT tyres from many years back, but its appeal will never be lost as long as we are going to use roads. No matter how we pitch the road safety education, we know that some of us are never going to get the message. So while we continue our efforts towards having a utopian idiot-free society, we should also brace ourselves to deal with the adversity, by using anti-skid tyres. CEAT’s Ad reflects this mental model of the strategy of choosing “resilinece” as a practical solution.
I can cite two wonderful applications of this mental model.
For many years, software developers struggled to come up with rigorous and bulletproof approaches to get the ultimate clarity into the software requirements and to set them in stone somehow, to avoid project failures.
And then some wise ones decided to not prevent but welcome changes in software requirements while the software got built. This agile methodology is the gold standard now not just in software development but even in other organizational processes. The resilience mental model gave solution to this tough and intractable problem.
I was amused to encounter another example of the application of this model recently in pandemic control. Several governments and organizations are working on to trace the origin of the covid-19 virus. Their major energy is spent in making strategies countering China’s non-cooperation on this objective.
While this is going on, some wise ones decided to accept that China or someone else is again going to cause this kind of havoc, no matter what kind of controls you setup. Why not spend energy in predicting future viruses and even vaccinate people against variants of a pathogen that are not yet circulating, but are likely to. To quote from this The Economist article – “…There is no knowing when the next pandemic will come. New pathogens are emerging from complex, unpredictable environments all the time, often far from scrutiny or regulatory control. A fresh disease could be about to take off right now, as a freak bacterium escapes from an antibiotic-abusing factory farm, say, or a mutated virus sweeps out of a laboratory or a forest, as a bat passes it on to a new host which can infect humans. You cannot stop all pandemics, but you can prepare for them better….”
So, next time when you are working on some intractable problem, consider this mental model of resilience, which I want to name as “CEAT Tyres approach”.