A holidaying family at a hill station set out for an evening walk. Feeling adventurous, they stepped off the road and climbed up the adjoining forest on a hill. A little before it began to turn dark they decided to turn around but couldn't trace their way back to the road. They were lost. Each one suggested a different route to take. Their animated chatter stopped at the sound of an elephant’s trumpet! The group froze.
The elephant sounded quite close behind them. ‘Let’s run,’ said the father. ‘Wait,’ said his little daughter and kneeling to the ground she picked up some mud and let it slip slowly through her fingers, and then, pointing in a direction she said, ‘We’ll head that way.’ The father was astonished. ‘What did you do?’ he asked. ‘Elephants can’t see as well as they can smell,’ she explained. ‘They use their trunks to pick up scents and if we are in the scent path of this elephant, he’ll find us. The mud shows which way the breeze is going. We'll go with the breeze, away from the elephant.’ She had read this in a wildlife magazine.
Some lessons in Crisis Management from this episode, for the workplace:
Have a guideline. Prior information and directions are useful while working on new, unfamiliar tasks or projects.
Drop 'marking stones' along the way to find your way back. Documentation and minutes-reports are vital when you look back at your decision making process to see how you have progressed and to steer you if you were to go off course.
Don’t panic. It will create chaos and take you further away from the solution.
Harness your knowledge and rely on common sense. Something you read about or heard from credible sources is handy. Common sense also dictated that the elephant was unlikely to come near the road due to the traffic sounds and headlights; the group moved towards the sounds and lights.
Value advice. The most unassuming team member could have the best idea.