Friday, June 14, 2019

Lying Certainty

“We will NOT fail!” Secretary General Decatur shouted at a press briefing held at WICO headquarters in London, responding to public furor over the lack of a plan if self-sustained impacts cannot be stopped by 2040, which I reported yesterday on this blog. “Believing otherwise is the REAL death sentence, and it is extremely irresponsible to encourage it!” I could feel him talking directly to me, even though it was a lie.

Someone in the press pool asked if he would share a number for the probability of success, and he told an obvious lie: “It’s one hundred percent, of course.”

“You’ve already stopped the impacts?” the reporter asked as a follow-up.

“No,” Decatur said, “but we know exactly what they are and how to stop them. The technology is available, and will be deployed soon.”

I heard Maura gasp beside me as we watched the briefing on television. “It’s a good thing this was my last day,” she said as another question was asked.

“You’ll see!” Decatur barked from the podium. “You do your job, getting through the transition, and let us do ours.” He stepped back and scanned the small crowd. “The details are secret for now, but you can judge us by the results. That is all for today.”

My phone rang. It was Al. “Didya hear that, Will?” he asked when I put the phone on speaker. “Arvin practically threw you and Maura under the bus!” I wasn’t surprised to hear him use Decatur’s first name; they worked together many years ago on multiple projects. “Yaboth didn’t encourage anythin’ like givin’ up, just doin’ what any smart person would: plannin’ for the worst case.”

“You heard him Al,” Maura said, now angry, “there is no worst case.”

“Is it possible he’s right?” I asked them both, stunned over the uncharacteristic performance by someone I deeply respected.

Maura held my hand. “Oh, Will, always the devil’s advocate. I wish it was, but I have it on pretty good authority that he lied. You can write that in your blog, by the way.”

“You can tell ‘em this, too,” Al said from the phone, “it doesn’t matter. Downgradin’ is the best shot we got, regardless of what comes after. “We’ll all do what we can, and deal with the result. Who knows: maybe we’ll get lucky with some help from friends we don’t know yet. Right, Maura?”

“Never rule out luck, Al,” she said.

Reality Check

No strategy is a sure thing. It won’t work at all if everyone isn’t behind it, and part of a leader’s job is to make sure they are.