The Bridge at River Choluteca


I read somewhere: Let’s get one thing straight, if something catastrophic hasn’t happened to your organization yet, trust me, it will. This means that we need to understand that sooner or later in our increasingly fast-changing world, where even the way things change is changing – your organisation or business will be affected by sudden and dramatic changes in society. 

Take the Choluteca Bridge for example.

The Choluteca Bridge is a suspension bridge located in Choluteca, Honduras. Initially constructed in 1930, the 484-meter bridge was rebuilt in 1996. The Honduras government, knowing the bridge was likely to face extreme weather conditions, commissioned some of the best architectural minds in the world to build a bridge that could withstand any hurricane. It was state-of-the-art at the time, providing a much-needed access point for the people of Honduras and was built to withstand the high winds and hurricanes that plagued the region.

In 1998, Honduras was hit by Hurricane Mitch, a category 5 storm that devastated the Caribbean. In Honduras, they had 75 inches of rain in four hours. Roads were wiped out; there was considerable damage to buildings, and every other bridge in Honduras was destroyed. However, the Choluteca Bridge stood its ground and survived in near perfect condition. It was an incredible architectural achievement.

But there was one problem. Firstly, the road on both sides of the bridge was swept away. And secondly, the storm caused the river to carve an entirely new path which no longer ran under the bridge. The Choluteca Bridge no longer stood over the river, rendering it virtually useless.

The result is that there is a sturdy and very useful bridge, but the river moved. The architects and engineers that designed the bridge made only one mistake, and that can be forgiven I think, they didn’t think of the possibility of the river itself moving. But this assumptions made the difference.

The Choluteca Bridge today

Times change. The way to do business change. Technology change. Communication change. Communication patterns change. People’s needs change. Big companies need lots of office space. Right? Wrong. Covid-19 changed that assumption.

From the 100 biggest companies that existed in 1900, only 5 of them were still in the top 100 by the year 200o. Tiger Brands has a large variety of food brands. Of their top 50 brands in 1960, only one of them was still in the basket in 2015: Black Cat Peanut Butter. Compare the market share of Nokia or Kodak in 2000 to where they are today.

Today, Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon seem unstoppable, but that’s only because we can’t always anticipate how the tech landscape will morph in the future, just like the bridge designers could not have predicted that the entire river would shift completely beyond the Choluteca Bridge.

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About the author

Bennie Mostert
By Bennie Mostert