A Lesson from Dr. Who: how to regenerate

It was a revelation to us to discover recently that the painful, form-changing regeneration process of the Doctor into his next incarnation was not in the original story line. (If you are a Whovian, this will come as no surprise – but read on.)

What we now think of as THE central aspect of the Time Lord’s character was developed by the script writers at very short notice, in response to the increasingly obvious and alarming symptoms of dementia exhibited by William Hartnell, the actor who played the first Doctor.

Now, imagine the discussions when the production and writing team learn the impact of Hartnell’s illness. They have a successful show on their hands, and the actor playing the lead is unreliable. If they can’t find a solution, the BBC will pull the plug on the show. What can they possibly do? What options do they have? What are the repercussions of any decision they make?
What they did was to turn a resource problem (Hartnell) into a solution for the immediate series, which has, in addition, proved an incredibly powerful tool for the future of the show over subsequent decades: the Doctor literally regenerates himself.

This matchless decision added an exciting dimension to the character; it provided huge character development opportunities within the series; it allowed actors playing the Doctor to legitimately make the role their own and then to leave in a “planned” manner; it created an expectation that the Doctor WOULD regenerate; it created more excitement and curiosity.
And, most importantly, it enabled the show to go on. And on. And on.

So, if you are in business, or research, or industry, or agriculture – insert your activity here – what is YOUR resource problem?

Is it power? Energy companies have been predicting that capacity simply cannot keep up with demand and warn that power outages in the UK could be expected as early as 2014.
Is it water? Which is in increasing demand, becoming increasingly precious and dangerously political. How much water does your ‘manufacturing’ process use? Your suppliers? Their suppliers?
Is it minerals and ores? Used in thousands of processes, from manufacturing microchips to creating cars. China is reducing the amount of rare earths it sells… what does that mean for your mobile phone or your laptop?
Is it people? Despite there being seven billion people on the planet, how do you find the right ones for you? And ensure that they stay relevant to your business?

Remember: there is seldom one solution to any problem, seldom one future scenario, seldom one regeneration process. No one can predict the future. However, if you look at several possible futures; using the available data to imagine plausible futures, then you can choose your preferred future and work towards it.

So: what does your preferred regeneration process look like?

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