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Business Lessons from the LaHaini Fire

Mannt Teran, Adam Hartung
Maui, Business Leaders, Natural Disaster, Business Tactics, Overdevelopment

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At least 100 dead, and over 1,000 missing going into 2 weeks post fire on Maui. It is an unmitigated disaster.  Although Mother Nature played a role, there is much business leaders can learn from how the fire developed and how Maui’s leaders reacted, failing to mitigate bad outcomes.

All businesses need good scenario plans accounting for impending events – good and bad.  But too few actually prepare to implement these scenarios, leaving them ineffective.  Too many Maui leaders failed to implement their scenario plans when the time came – just as too few business leaders implement at the early signs of danger, leading to eventual poor outcomes.

Additionally, we too often don’t pay attention to how short-term focus can create very dangerous situations. On Maui overdevelopment led to turning former wetlands into tinder traps, and short term thinking caused native precautions to be ignored making the island a “fire waiting to happen.”  If business leaders don’t pay attention to how trends push things in the wrong direction they won’t be prepared when the “snapback” happens, leaving them “holding the bag” when things go terribly wrong.

Thinking points:

  • Do you complete scenario plans for technology, regulation, bad actors that could really hurt your business?
  • Do you think through alternative business tactics to implement when markets shift?  Do you prepare to implement alternative tactics?
  • Do you look long-term at the impacts of your business strategy and tactics to recognize problems that will develop if you keepdoing the same thing?
  • Are you keeping your organization agile to move quickly when changes – even disasters – erupt?