Weather-Ready Nation? It’s all about the follow-through.

Think about every bit of coaching you’ve received in sports.

Swing the bat through the ball.

Kick through the ball.

Swing the golf club through the ball.

[The blogosphere is loaded with literalists, so let me be the first to mention an exception to this general rule…there are probably others…breaking concrete blocks with your bare hand…]

The importance of follow-through applies to just about everything that matters in life. It’s not enough to have an idea. We’ve got to follow through. There are synonyms for this. Jack Welch, the former Chair and CEO at General Electric, in his best-selling management book Winning, spoke to the importance of the 4-E (and 1-P) framework. The one P was Passion. The four E’s included positive Energy, the ability to Energize others, Edge, and Execution (read follow-through). We’ve all learned that in the workplace, we approach goals rather like Zeno…in each time step, we only get half the remaining distance. So to succeed in virtually any project, we need to state a goal just a bit past our real target. And one last example?

And closer to home? Getting married is easy, but building a stable, loving marriage requires follow-through.

How might that apply to our goal of a Weather-Ready Nation?

Several ways, in fact.

Warnings – but more than warnings. Let’s go back to the National Weather Service’s Norman workshop held in December of last year. The focus was tornados, and on improved warnings – especially with respect to communication of those warnings over “the last mile” – how to get urgent information in the hands and on the minds of the few people directly in harm’s way. At the same time, the workshop framers and participants emphasized throughout that weather-readiness starts with cultural values, land use, building codes – and much, much more. And readiness extends to ready-to-rebuild/recover in those instances where things go horribly awry. It means having learning from experience and having recovery plans available prior to the disaster…not cobbling something together after the fact.

Tornadoes to be sure – but also all other violent weather. Norman attendees also reaffirmed at every stage that although the venue was Norman and the emphasis was tornadoes, that weather-ready comprises coping with hurricanes, blizzards and ice storms, flash floods, lightning, hail…

Ready for all weather challenges. Weather’s challenges come in flavors other than fierce. Weather-ready has to include drought as well as flood. It extends to heat waves. It encompasses air-quality episodes (ozone, oxides of nitrogen, particulates…) and their impacts on public health. UV radiation. Space weather.

Ready to capitalize on favorable weather. Weather confers benefits as well as costs. These days, sunshine and wind offer opportunities not just for recreation but energy generation. Is it raining? Then agribusiness doesn’t need to spend the energy required to pump irrigation water from (depleted) aquifers. And on and on. In a weather-ready nation, every economic sector and the general public smoothly and efficiently capture the fullest measure of weather’s gifts.

No one left behind. In a Weather-Ready Nation, everyone is weather-ready. Both genders. Young and the old alike. Every under-represented group. People for whom English is a second language. The poor as well as the well-to-do. The sick, not just the well.

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So we can’t claim to be weather-ready until all of us are ready for weather in all its faces, across the entire geographic and cultural span of the country.

We’ve got to follow through. More on one final aspect in the next post.

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