Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010 Reviewed: What Can We Learn to Make a Better 2011?

As a human race we seem, in general, to be very bad at learning lessons from the past, but maybe this year we can change that trend. With 2010 being a difficult year for many, what can we learn from the good, bad and ugly events that made up the last twelve months; that will help us define our future?

The fun, miraculous and tragic events that took place over the last twelve months, included the following that are worth remembering;

The Worlds Broken Promises. On January 12, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake shook Port-au-Prince, Haiti, toppling buildings and destroying most of the country's infrastructure. The Haitian government estimated 230,000 people were killed, more than 300,000 injured, and more than 1,000,000 people left homeless. Humanitarian aid began flowing into the country within hours of the quake; however it was not enough to prevent rioting in the economically ravaged nation.

Nearly a year on from the earthquake, Robert Muggah writes in the Guardian (31st December 2010) that more than a million people are still living in tents and less than a tenth of aid cash has been delivered, and much less has been spent. Even if some allowance is made for the extraordinary devastation wrought by the disasters, few disagree that the Haitian government's handling of the situation has been spectacularly poor. Likewise, with few exceptions, the international aid sector's record has been dismal. And while 2010 was grim, there are few guarantees that 2011 will be any better. As Robert Muggah states, the international community could not stop the earthquake, but surely it can deliver on its promise to help Haitians reconstruct their battered country.

The Rapid Pace of Technological Change. On January 27th, after months of speculation, Apple Inc. CEO, Steve Jobs, unveiled the company's first tablet computer, the iPad. The mobile tablet provided the functionality of a MacBook laptop and the mobility of an iPhone. The iPad hit shelves in April of 2010 and sold more than 3 million units in just 80 days.

Safety First or Second? On January 21, Toyota instituted its second recall after reports of pedals sticking to floor mats, causing people to accelerate without being able to use their break. The recall included 2.3 million vehicles sold in the U.S. and 1.8 million sold in other countries. An additional 1.1 million more Toyota vehicles were recalled a week later. In April 2010, Toyota agreed to pay a record fine of $16.4m (£10.7m) in the US for failing to report defects.

Yet this was just the beginning, as by 21st October 2010, Toyota had issued 14 different recalls, equating to more than 10 million cars worldwide.

A Medical Miracle. On March 20, a team of 30 Spanish doctors completed the first ever full face transplant. The patient 'Oscar' had been injured in a shooting accident.

The Power of Our Planet. On April 14, the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted for a second time, causing a massive plume of smoke and ash. In just one week the cloud had forced the cancellation of 95,000 flights over Europe.

Do Organisations put Profitability before Responsibility? On April 20, The Deepwater Horizon, an offshore floating oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers and forcing other workers onto life boats. The explosion set off a three month oil leak that reached American shores in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

Oil was estimated to be leaking into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of between 504,000 and 798,000 gallons a day throughout the summer - the Gulf oil spill resulted in 18 million to 30 million gallons accumulating in the Gulf of Mexico dwarfing both the Ixtoc I oil spill and Exxon Valdez oil tanker disaster.

On 17th June, Mr Hayward the CEO of BP sat in front of a US congressional committee, where he was questioned for over five hours. It seemed that Mr Howard had two well planned answers, firstly “we await the results of the investigations before rendering conclusions” and secondly, “I was not involved in the decision making process.” This event made Mr Hayward and BP look incompetent and uncaring. What was even more questionable was when asked when the investigation would be completed, Mr Hayward didn’t have an answer.

Congresswoman Betty Sutton from Ohio probably stated it best when she told Mr Hayward that his lack of answers showed a real detachment and disconnect with the situation – which Mr Hayward denied (and then went sailing two days later).

A First for Africa. On June 11, South Africa welcomed soccer fans from around the world as the World Cup opened for the first time on African soil. Spain defeated The Netherlands in the World Cup Final 1-0, the nation's first World Cup title.

Another Sporting First. On June 24, American John Isner defeated France's Nicholas Mahut 70-68 in the final set, in an 11 hour, and 5 minute tennis match, which spanned three days. The Wimbledon match was the longest match in history. Both players received an award for their efforts.

Can the Freedom of Information Go Too Far? On July 25, the website Wikileaks releases thousands of classified military intelligence documents dating from 2004-2009. The documents revealed startling information on what the U.S. knew about the Taliban, Iran and Pakistan's involvement in the insurgency, and the amount of civilian casualties. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange (pictured) would not reveal the source of the leaked documents. The Wikileaks website continued several more 'document dumps' through the year.

Later on 28th November 2010, WikiLeaks began publishing the first batch of more than 250 000 US diplomatic cables, many of them classified as "secret", that the website is believed to have obtained from a disaffected US soldier. By 3rd December the original domain was taken offline by its American domain name system provider,, following reports of massive cyber-attacks on the site. This followed Amazon booting Wikileaks from its computer servers on Wednesday following pressure from US politicians.

The Power of Nature. On July 26, 2010 huge quantities of rain flooded 1/5th of Pakistan. The resulting flood disaster affected 20 million people creating the worst flood disaster in Pakistan. Over 1,700 people have died and close to 3,000 were injured.

In the month of September, the World Food Programme (WFP) provided food rations for more than six million people in 47 districts, with a daily peak of 440,000 individuals reached on 27 September alone. Yet on 1st October WFP’s emergency food assistance operation in support of flood-affected communities faced a shortfall of more than US$414 million.

A Time for Giving or a Time for PR? On September 22, it was reported that 26-year-old Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg would donate $100 million to the Newark Public Schools. Zuckerberg later made the official announcement on Oprah. The timing of the announcement was a bit peculiar; as it came just weeks after a movie allegedly about Zuckerberg called 'Social Network' was released. Facebook was heavily criticized in 2010 for allegedly allowing outside sources to pull personal information from its users, but Zuckerberg was later named 'Time Person of the Year' on December 16th.

A Human Miracle. On October 13, after nearly 70 days trapped below the earth in a Chilean mine, 33 miners are rescued through a tiny capsule taken, like an elevator, up a narrow shaft. All 33 miners were rescued and were in good condition. The miners became instant celebrities and each was greeted by Chile's president upon their rescue.

In Memory. Finally let’s remember a few of the special people, who passed away during 2010;

January 11th; Miep Gies, aged 100, the office secretary who defied Nazi occupiers to hide Anne Frank and her family for two years and saved the teenager's diary, in Amsterdam, from a neck injury sustained in a fall at her home.

January 16th, Glenn W. Bell Jr., 86, an entrepreneur best known as the founder of the Taco Bell chain, in Rancho Santa Fe, California. No cause of death was specified.

March 20th, Stewart Udall, 90, who sowed the seeds of the modern environmental movement in the United States as secretary of the interior in the 1960s, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, of natural causes.

May 11th, Giuliana Coen Camerino, 90, an Italian designer credited with making handbags a fashion item, in Venice. No cause of death was given.

May 15th, John Shepard-Barron, 89, the Scotsman credited with inventing the world's first automatic cash machine, in Inverness, after a short illness.

May 31st, Chris Haney, 59, co-creator of the popular Trivial Pursuit board game, in Toronto after a long illness.

June 28th, Nicolas Hayek, 82, chairperson and former chief executive of the giant Swiss watch-manufacturing firm Swatch and credited with reinventing that country's watch-making industry in the 1980s, in Biel Switzerland of heart failure.

July 19th, David Warren, 85, an Australian scientist who invented the "black box" flight data recorder after investigating the first crash of a commercial jetliner in 1954. No place or cause of death was given.

July 23rd, Daniel Schorr, 93, whose career in American journalism over more than six decades landed him in the dark corners of Europe during the Cold War and the shadows of President Richard Nixon's "enemies list," in Washington, after a brief illness.

July 28th, “Papa Jacques" Montouroy, 63, a legendary French aid worker for Catholic Relief Services for 41 years in several African countries and Haiti, in Freetown, Sierra Leone, of complications from an ulcer.

September 8th, Allen Dale June, 91, one of the 29 original Navajo code talkers who confounded the Japanese in World War II by transmitting messages in their native language, in Prescott, Arizona, of natural causes.

October 9th, Maurice Allais, 99, a French Nobel economic winner and an early critic of shortcomings in the worldwide financial system that led to the latest crisis, in Saint Cloud, France of natural causes.

November 16th, Britton Chance, 97, an American scientist whose work in biomedical optics helped develop spectroscopy as a non-invasive way to diagnose medical problems, in Philadelphia of heart failure.

December 18th, Sarah "Sally" Goodrich, 65, who lost a son in the September 11 attacks and later established a foundation to promote education in Afghanistan, at her home in Bennington, Vermont, of cancer.

In Conclusion

Let’s hope that 2011 can be a better year for everyone and that we can remember, learn and implement solutions from the mistakes of our past. 2011 needs more visionary focus and effective communication from our organisational leaders, creating a greater cohesiveness as employees operate from a position of ‘accountable ownership’ and not simple compliance.

Also we need more focus on developing the effective leadership of the future (and not only in business); individuals who can raise the standards and find solutions for the challenges ahead.

No comments:

Post a Comment