Sri Lanka Easter bombings: Converting ‘threat’ into ‘opportunity’

Wednesday, 22 May 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

 

Continuously we are getting negative news, negative statistics, and forecasts as outcome of the Easter attacks. As per British psychologist Dr. Graham Davey, “the way that negative news affects your mood can also have a larger effect on how you interpret and interact with the world around you. If it makes you more anxious or sad for instance, then you may subconsciously become more attuned to negative or threatening events, and you may be more likely to see ambiguous or neutral events as negative ones (www.huffpost.com/entry/violent-media-anxiety_n_6671732).” 

Anyway we need to think in a positive way to rebuild our nation as true Sri Lankans. In Strategic Management we use a tool called ‘SWOT analysis’ (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). You need to have strategies to convert ‘threat’ into an ‘opportunity’. I personally believe there is a ‘Strategic Window’ which has opened for Sri Lanka. In literature, the strategic window has defined as “Temporary period of ‘alignment’ or ‘fit’ between the competitive capabilities of an organisation and the key requirements of the existing or new markets it intends to compete in” (http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/strategic-window.html). 

Now Sri Lankans start to think as a ‘nation with harmony’ and you can see various experts suggesting different models on how to come out with synergy. I consider this as one of the competitive capabilities which we need to read positively. As ‘key requirements of the existing or new markets’ (in definition) most of the countries start to talking about ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’ which we need to utilise properly. Anyway, as the definition suggests we have ‘temporary period’ or very little time to respond. What we need to do is to act wisely and act fast before this ‘Strategic Window’ is going to close. As we know Sri Lankans have a tendency of forgetting past ASAP as we need to act promptly on this. 

Furthermore, refer below for a same argument with a different perspective:

Appamādō amata padam

pamādō maccunō padam

appamattā na meeyanthi

ye pamattā yathā matā.

(Dhammapada Verse 21, Samavati Vatthu)

Appamāda is ‘doing without delay’ and pamāda is being delayed.

Mata (pronounced ‘matha’) is death, and amata is deathless, another word for Nibbāna. Maccunō (pronounced ‘machchunō’) is also death, so is meeyanthi.

Pada means ‘word’ (most these words are also Sinhala words).

Appamattā is one who is not delayed, pamattā is one who is delayed.

Yathā is ‘true status’.

(Source: https://puredhamma.net/dhammapada/appamado-amata-padam/)

We can align the concept of ‘Strategic Window’ with ‘Appamāda’ (is doing without delay) and pamāda (is being delayed). Anyway, we need to recognise the fact that the philosophical interpretation of Samavati Vatthu in Dhammapada is broader in the given domain of knowledge.

There is a grave need to ‘be positive’ and turning ‘threat’ into ‘opportunity’. How we can do this? First I think there should be an apex body in the country which can be named as ‘Team of Rebuilding Sri Lanka’. Anyway, unlike in the past, there should be a serious collaboration of industry, academia and all stakeholders to have a contingency plan on this. In Sri Lanka, we have witnessed lack of collaboration with some parties because of their own egos. But this is the time you need to get yourself united as Sri Lankans. We can have an apex body comprising:

1. Representatives from different industries

2. Academics and intellectuals representing different local and international universities and professional associations

3. Representatives from different religious groups

4. Representatives from media

5. Representatives from different government bodies

6. And other stakeholders

All can be contributed for policy document for a country for the next six months. Anyway, the challenge is the preparation of the document within a short period of time. There can be different monitoring mechanisms like meetings can be conducted in between. More importantly all citizens can be aware of this and need to create ‘a sense of urgency’ (according to Kotter (1996) establishing a sense of urgency means you’re trying to change the status quo, to push employees to no longer be complacent and to help employees see that it is critical to move forward sooner rather than later. The same model can be applied by replacing ‘employees’ to ‘citizens of Sri Lanka’ as there is a need for them to convince to act sooner than later.).

If this apex body performs well for six months we can have the same formula for the long run to plan our vision of the year 2020 or even for the vision of the country for the year 2050!

As mentioned earlier we as Sri Lankans need to take the incident of ‘Easter Bombings’ not as a ‘threat’ but as an ‘opportunity’. As we know Sri Lanka is a blessed country with a history of more than 35,000 years of civilisation with wonderful smiling people with many potentials. We need to unite and act together! 

(The writer is a Professor in Management at Department of Management Studies, Open University of Sri Lanka. You can reach him on nalinabeysekera@gmail.com.)

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