So Storm Doris is due to arrive today! I was bemused by the choice of name which was allocated after the British and Irish Met services invited members of the public to propose names for this winter’s storms. Doris seems to me to suggest a rather more benign character than this Doris is already having. Half the trains from our area to London have been cancelled and the rests are set to run at half speed for at least part of the journey.
We have only been naming storms for the past couple of years. Before that they would appear in the forecasts, do their worst, and move on. Giving them names seems to have had two significant impacts.
First of all, we get better prepared. Knowing that Doris was coming means that the number of people attempting travel on the trains has reduced. The train I’m on as I head south away from her worst impact is relatively busy but much less so than it might have been given that the previous service was cancelled. Giving the problem a name seems to have enabled us, as a nation, to take notice of the impact and make appropriate decisions.
The second impact is that naming the storm seems to have increased the level of anxiety. We are all watching to see what will happen. Will there be damage to buildings? Will trees blow down? Will I make it to my meeting on time and then get back home without a major delay?
Naming the problem gives it focus and allows better planning.
Now, I’m not suggesting that we should give all problems and proper name. We’re not going to call a problem with the printer in the office ‘Dave.’ But speaking it out and describing an issue to colleagues can offer an opportunity to reflect and identify solutions before the problem becomes a major issue.