In his book, A Hole at the Bottom of the Sea, author Joel Achenbach explores the 2010 disaster of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He examines the decisions that were made leading up to the night the well broke open, and how a solution to the worst oil spill in history was reached. What he discovers in writing the book is importance of keeping our world’s experts engaged and connected when moments of disaster or crisis emerge. In regards to crisis management he wrote, “A good rule in a crisis is , at the point of attack, keep the professionals in charge. This is the battle cry of competency. Don’t let a crisis put you off your game. Don’t rush, don’t panic, don’t deviate from best practices.”
In the section I pulled this quote from, Achenbach is explaining the way that engineers with BP and scientists brought in by our government approached the broken well. The experts for deepwater drilling continued their work in a practical and pragmatic way, with extra brain power and assistance piling on to try to find, research, and understand novel solutions to the problem. From the outside, the world was going mad in a desperate frenzy to see the well shut off, but for those who must think about, manage, and design solutions for the problem, the top people were kept in charge and provided the resources necessary for a solution.
This approach to a crisis reminds me of stoic philosophy which calls for tranquility and clear thought in times that are challenging. Reactionary behavior and frenzied emotions will pull us in many directions and encourage us to make hasty decisions based on half formed thoughts. During a time of crisis and during our most challenging moments a clear and consistent thought process may seem maddeningly slow and tedious, but it will serve us better in the long run as we keep ourselves from making rash decisions with unknown consequences.