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Editor’s Letter: Polycrisis? What’s New?

You may be way ahead of me and are already familiar with the term “polycrisis”. It was first coined in the 70’s by French theorist Edgar Morin and recently popped up during the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. It’s exactly as it sounds—and just as scary. The term refers to the convergence of multiple crises at one time—at this moment in history, it consists of multiple wars, pandemics, inflation, energy costs, and climate crises. Polycrises have happened throughout history, and this one may or may not be worse than those in the past; I’ll leave that up to the scientists and historians to decide.

If you work in retail, let’s make it less macro and add the lack of prosecution for retail crimes, labor shortages, homelessness, organized retail crime, and increased active shooters, among others. If things feel overwhelming, you’re not alone, and your perception is a shared one. We are all feeling it. Living during a polycrisis is stressful, and being uber-connected to the daily news and social media only adds to that stress.

All is not gloom and doom. Loss prevention professionals have been the Steady Eddies, the lighthouse, and the calm in the storm through many other polycrises. Whether on a global scale or within your own company, LP folks tend to shoulder the burden in times of trouble and get asked to guide the boat through rough waters.

- Digital Partner -

There were a lot of mixed metaphors in that paragraph. Since I’ve been out enjoying nature lately, I’ll focus on the rough waters to illustrate a point.

Picture yourself guiding your LP boat through class IV whitewater rapids. There’s a whole team of people in the boat depending on you to help them make it through. You need to have a steady hand, vision, and strength. You can’t crack under pressure or be distracted by a spray of water here and there. Some people on the boat may be fearful and decide they want to jump out; you must coach them through and convince them it’s in their best interests to stay in the boat. Watch out for the boulders! Whether it’s veering to starboard away from the sharp granite of wrongheaded policies and investments or to port, deftly implementing successful programs, you must captain that boat to safety.

When you make it through to the end of your whitewater thrill ride, you’ll be exhilarated and exhausted. By the way, there will be lots of other whitewater trips for you during your career. They won’t all be navigated so seamlessly, and you are bound to learn from each one what you are made of. Even though you were the boat’s captain, you’ll realize that without those passengers, the boat would have been mightily unstable. Who wants to take a boat ride down rapids alone anyway? Not me.

Remember the most important lesson the river teaches us, and as several authors in the fall issue point out: we need to care for ourselves and each other in times of troubled waters. We are in them and will be called upon to guide our teams to safety. Polycrisis? You’ve got this captain.

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