It’s how we learn from our mistakes and plan accordingly that defines us

If your retail sales and planning meetings are anything like ours - and in many ways I know they’re not, as you won’t spend nearly as much time as we will discussing the success of the new Kissing Cleavage Collection, or giggling while debating whether our new Fluff Foam (don’t ask) is doing the business - your senior managers will have spent countless hours making provision for the impact of a double-dip recession.

When I asked my team what we had planned, one of our buyers said: “We’re about to launch a brilliant new toy that’s been designed especially for it.” I rather think she had the wrong end of the stick.

As we all make contingency plans for the impending storm, I do wonder whether there are forces outside of our control - forces of nature - that will correct and rebalance our lives, much more so than the various changes we try to thrust upon our businesses.

Retail directors everywhere will be attributing the recent surge in sales to new training, improved merchandising or other such recent retail initiatives but the real reason that retail has given the whole nation hope for our collective economic future is that the sun’s been shining and our customers have gone shopping. Thank you, God.

Which brings me to a man who the whole world - led by the US media and Congress - believes has challenged the laws of nature and lost, resulting in the one of the biggest natural disasters in history.

It has become a modern day morality tale but one in which I have some sympathy for the chief protagonist, BP’s Tony Hayward. Not because of the treatment he received at the recent Congressional hearings - that was inevitable.

And nobody should feel anything other than astonishment or anger at his remuneration package. Executive pay on this scale only ever happens in publicly listed companies as it is not their money and either the owners (shareholders) are too far removed to know what’s going on or the institutional investors who work on their behalf are part of this inner clique and party to the scam.

Privately owned businesses would never let their money be squandered in this way. No, the reason I have some sympathy for him is because now that he has gone, experts have started to put their head above the parapet to echo comments he’d made previously - that the vast majority of the spilt oil has already begun to be broken down by natural processes in the Gulf and that the impact of the spill will last less than 12 months. In short, nature will take care of the problem.

For every disaster, there will always be an answer or solution. How we find the answer or figure out the solution is quite another matter - it is also the way we prepare ourselves for the future and learn from our mistakes that can truly count.