We have heard a lot about the Battle of Waterloo lately, and not surprisingly.
However, much less has been said about the Battle of Quatre Bras which took place two days earlier. It was arguably a draw, but from the British point of view we succeeded in delaying Napoleon’s advance and giving ourselves and our allies a chance to defeat him later, as we did. It was a bit of a shambles at times and Wellington was afraid it was going to turn into a total rout of the British and our allies. We seem to have taken up positions which we found ourselves unable to defend. At one stage there were Dutchmen and Belgians running in all directions, their officers losing all control. Then Wellington saw a big gap where a brigade of Germans had been. It looked like the panic was spreading. It looked bad. Then he saw them. The Germans. They were retreating all right. But they were under command and ready to fight. Their commanding officer had decided to pull back to a clump of trees that would give them some cover, so he ordered a tactical withdrawal. It worked. The rest is history.
So what has any of this got to do with anything?
When things go wrong, as they are bound to sometimes, how do you react? Panic? Give up?
Or do you rethink and take sensible steps to retrieve the situation? Like the German officer?
Having a plan helps. A Plan B. In case Plan A does not work.
That is what Risk Management can do for you. Ask “What could go wrong?” Then think what you could do about it.
The time to ask it, and think it, is NOT after things have gone wrong. Nobody makes the best decisions under stress.
Be ahead of the game. Load the dice in your favour. Manage the risks.