Handling exceptions the human way 21:01 on Thursday

There was a story in the news recently about how fish are dying in the Ostrobothnia region because of the unusually warm weather we’re experiencing here in Finland. “Unusually warm” in this context meaning +7 celsius.

Happamuus tappaa kalat

Following the news with half an eye and half an ear, half-brained questions start popping up: Does this unexpected, once-in-50-years event affect people whose source of livelihood is fish? Are struggling fishers left unemployed, unable to pay for the maintenance of their fishing boats, making it harder for them to continue their trade, forcing them to seek solace in spirits (the liquid, not the religious kind), ending up divorced, eventually contributing to the deterioration of the rural population?

Maybe not. Nevertheless, we are terribly bad at handling exceptions or sudden changes in our environment, whether it is a business environment, a computing environment, or our natural environment.

To clarify, humans are great at handling exceptions, human-built systems are not.

We design and build expensive constructs for addressing the possibility of the unknown. Earth-quake warning devices. Flood banks. Early warning systems for intrusions, real and virtual. DRM. Yet these systems can generally only handle known problems — stuff that has been learnt from the past or stuff that has been imagined.

Wouldn’t it be much better use of resources to build processes and systems for adapting to the inevitable moment of crossing paths with the unknown? Lists of rules and exceptions are not good enough.

Side note: I think Sig is building something like this for business with Thingamy.

[tags]environment, change, exceptions, business, process development[/tags]

One Response to “Handling exceptions the human way”


  1. Juansi Says:

    Ours is a chaotic system.

    Although we, humans, think that we can prevent things to happen, we actually cannot.

    Building, as you say, processes ans systems for adapting for “any inevitable moment” give us tranquility but the truth is that reality almost always exceedes our previsions, and it is then when adaptation rules over prevention.

    Being preventive is not enough.

    Being preventive and adaptable maybe.

    One never knows :-)