This morning I ordered two items from Amazon.com – a Hello Kitty blanket for my daughter and a book called “Mission Improbable: Using Fantasy Documents to Tame Disaster.” I’m not so keen on the kitty, but the book sounds fascinating, so I figured I’d let you know about it. Here’s the description (in part):
“How does the government or a business plan for an unimaginable disaster-a meltdown at a nuclear power plant, a gigantic oil spill, or a nuclear attack? Lee Clarke examines actual attempts to ‘prepare’ for these catastrophes and finds that the policies adopted by corporations and government agencies are fundamentally rhetorical: the plans have no chance to succeed, yet they serve both the organizations and the public as symbols of control, order, and stability. These ‘fantasy documents’ attempt to inspire confidence in organizations, but for Clarke they are disturbing persuasions, soothing our perception that we ultimately cannot control our own technological advances.
“While we are increasingly skeptical of big organizations, we still have no choice but to depend on them for protection from large-scale disasters. We expect their specialists to tell the truth, and yet, as Clarke points out, reassuring rhetoric (under the guise of expert prediction) may have no basis in fact or truth because no such basis is attainable. In uncovering the dangers of planning when implementation is a fantasy, Clarke concludes that society would be safer, smarter, and fairer if organizations could admit their limitations.”
Interesting questions and conclusions. What do you think?