“Never Waste a Good Crisis”
The statement that we must “never waste a good crisis” is generally attributed to Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s Chief of Staff, in response to the Wall Street meltdown. Many have made the same point and, in fact, the words can be traced back at least to Niccolo Machiavelli who wrote, “Never waste the opportunity offered by a good crisis.” Machiavelli, and Emanuel after him, understood that crises shake people out of their complacency, create opportunities to challenge conventional wisdom and give leaders some room to take on vested interests and achieve transformative change.
Inevitably, those who would find such opportunities for change most threatening, those with vested interests in the current arrangements, will downplay the crises – “what crisis?’ – or portray them as inevitable and beyond our capacity to manage or prevent (see previous post).
Why do I raise these issues today? Read this in which the CEO of BP describes the “small oil spill” in the large ocean. What crisis?