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jerryking : antifragility   12

The belle époque of the small nation is over
September 28, 2018 | Financial Times | by JANAN GANESH.

Globalisation has been the era of small countries but that time may now be passing. Ganesh raises an interesting point, what happens to small countries that, since the end of WW2, have enjoyed the protection of the rules-based system (UN, WTO, NATO, Pax Americana).

Singapore leaders were determined in their quest to that small nation be less small.....The paradox is that smallness has been an edge, not a curse, in the liberal age. For all the grandiloquence about a Washington Consensus and a Pax Americana, the US was never the principal profiteer from globalisation.....The real beneficiaries were the rapid enrichment of Ireland, the ethnic diversification of Sweden, the technological fecundity of Israel and the rise of Dubai from the sands as a shimmering entrepôt......1990-2010 was the golden age--the belle époque--of the small nation....Rules-based globalism was a precious equaliser for these places.... it also made advantages of their liabilities....Their shortage of domestic consumers was the ultimate incentive to cast around for other markets. Their lack of capital made them welcome foreign investors. Even the nicheness of their native languages (in some cases) obliged them to master English.

There is, without leaning too much on “national character”, a small-country hardiness ....an acceptance of the outside world as a non-negotiable fact: a blend of fatalism and resourcefulness that makes for formidable migrants....If small countries have mastered the global age, it is a feat that goes beyond the economic. They also have a cultural reach that was hard to picture not long ago, when nations needed the brawn of a BBC or a Canal Plus to foist their creative wares on distant audiences....all attest to what we are now obliged to call the “soft power” of small countries....The mistake is to see this moment as eternal. For those who live in or care about these places, the dread is that the coming decades will be as harsh as the last few have been kind. Almost all the conditions that allowed small nations to bloom look precarious....growing protectionism...big states throwing their weight around....Peter Thiel, in his bid for NZ citizenship, said he found “no other country that aligns more with my view of the future than New Zealand”. It was telling that such a prolific maker of sound bets backed a small, open, adaptable nation.
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I am more optimistic and believe many small states will adjust just fine. Why? Think of Taleb's flexibility idea - small states are less fragile than bigger ones, more nimble, more homogenous, faster to change I like also to add that there are more smaller successful counties than the ones mentioned (e.g., Switzerland, Costa Rica).
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The flip side is that small countries may have greater ability to act thoughtfully and coherently than larger peers. But I agree - it is likely to be tough ahead.

Here in Singapore, a senior politician summed it up very well: we are just a block of granite in the south china sea, and have no God-given right to exist as a country. The only way we can survive is by being paranoid and continuously reinventing ourselves.
city-states  globalization  Iceland  Janan_Ganesh  nimbleness  Peter_Thiel  post_globalization  rules-based  Singapore  small_states  soft_power  antifragility  Dubai  Ireland  punch-above-its-weight  paranoia  reinvention 
october 2018 by jerryking
You can’t predict a black swan - The Globe and Mail
KONRAD YAKABUSKI
The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Jan. 29 2015

The New York snowstorm that wasn’t, like the Swiss currency storm that was, are reminders that sophisticated computer models used to predict the future are useless in the face of the unpredictable. Instead of seeking a false assurance in the models, it’s better to prepare, to the extent possible, to weather any storm Mother Nature or man dishes up.

Black swans are “large-scale, unpredictable and irregular events of massive consequence,” as defined by the author who popularized the term in a 2007 book. Given their unpredictability, says Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the solution cannot lie in developing better predictive methods....Robust policy – such as sustainable public finances or effective bank regulations – must be designed to withstand black swans.
Konrad_Yakabuski  forecasting  weather  public_policy  reminders  modelling  unpredictability  assumptions  antifragility  Nassim_Taleb  black_swan  resilience  risk-management  policymaking 
january 2015 by jerryking
Giving Good Praise to Girls: What Messages Stick
April 24, 2013 || MindShift |Katrina Schwartz |

This research suggests parents and educators should rethink what implicit and explicit messages are being sent to young girls about achievement.

If adults emphasize that all skills are learned through a process of engagement, value challenge and praise efforts to supersede frustration rather than only showing excitement over the right answer, girls will show resilience.... “Mother’s praise to their babies, one to three years of age, predicts that child’s mindset and desire for challenge five years later,” Dweck said. “It doesn’t mean it is set in stone, but it means that kind of value system — what you’re praising, what you say is important — it’s sinking in. And the kids who are getting this process praise, strategy and taking on hard things and sticking to them, those are the kids who want the challenge.” Dweck understands it isn’t easy to praise process and emphasize the fun in challenging situations. Kids like direct praise, but to Dweck lauding achievement is like feeding them junk food – it’s bad for them.

[RELATED READING: How Important is Grit in Student Achievement?]

An implicit argument here is that failure in small doses is good. [JCK: Nassim Nicholas Taleb's concept of antifragility] Dweck’s not the first person to make that argument; advocates of game-based learning say one of its strongest attributes lies in a player’s ability to fail and start over without being stigmatized. Students learn as they go, getting better each time they attempt a task in the game. But the current education system leaves little room for failure, and consequently anxious parents often don’t tolerate small setbacks either.

“If you have little failures along the way and have them understand that’s part of learning, and that you can actually derive useful information about what to do next, that’s really useful,” Dweck said.

She believes families should sit around the dinner table discussing the day’s struggles and new strategies for attacking the problem. In life no one can be perfect, and learning to view little failures as learning experiences, or opportunities to grow could be the most valuable lesson of all.
antifragility  appreciation  conversations  daughters  dining  failure  family  feedback  girls  grit  hard_work  parenting  persistence  praise  process-orientation  resilience  values  value_systems 
april 2014 by jerryking
What Data Can’t Do - NYTimes.com
By DAVID BROOKS
Published: February 18, 2013

there are many things big data does poorly. Let’s note a few in rapid-fire fashion:

* Data struggles with the social. Your brain is pretty bad at math (quick, what’s the square root of 437), but it’s excellent at social cognition. People are really good at mirroring each other’s emotional states, at detecting uncooperative behavior and at assigning value to things through emotion.
* Data struggles with context. Human decisions are embedded in contexts. The human brain has evolved to account for this reality...Data analysis is pretty bad at narrative and emergent thinking.
* Data creates bigger haystacks. This is a point Nassim Taleb, the author of “Antifragile,” has made. As we acquire more data, we have the ability to find many, many more statistically significant correlations. Most of these correlations are spurious and deceive us when we’re trying to understand a situation.
* Big data has trouble with big (e.g. societal) problems.
* Data favors memes over masterpieces. Data analysis can detect when large numbers of people take an instant liking to some cultural product. But many important (and profitable) products are hated initially because they are unfamiliar. [The unfamiliar has to accomplish behavioural change / bridge cultural divides]
* Data obscures hidden/implicit value judgements. I recently saw an academic book with the excellent title, “ ‘Raw Data’ Is an Oxymoron.” One of the points was that data is never raw; it’s always structured according to somebody’s predispositions and values. The end result looks disinterested, but, in reality, there are value choices all the way through, from construction to interpretation.

This is not to argue that big data isn’t a great tool. It’s just that, like any tool, it’s good at some things and not at others. As the Yale professor Edward Tufte has said, “The world is much more interesting than any one discipline.”
massive_data_sets  David_Brooks  data_driven  decision_making  data  Nassim_Taleb  contrarians  skepticism  new_graduates  contextual  risks  social_cognition  self-deception  correlations  value_judgements  haystacks  narratives  memes  unfamiliarity  naivete  hidden  Edward_Tufte  emotions  antifragility  behavioral_change  new_products  cultural_products  masterpieces  EQ  emotional_intelligence 
february 2013 by jerryking
Why trauma may be just what you need - The Globe and Mail
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Special to The Globe and Mail

Last updated Saturday, Dec. 01 2012

with Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, an expansion of his thinking on risk beyond business and the markets to all sides of life. He begins from the standpoint that the opposite of being vulnerable to random events is not simply to be sturdy or adaptable, but actually to thrive on some degree of calamity and improve by it – “antifragility.” He rails against the “fragilistas” who make things more dangerous by seeking an unrealizable stability, and advocates for a “hormetic” approach (strengthening the system with small doses of toxins) in education, health, politics, careers, finance and many other areas.

In this passage, Mr. Taleb considers the “antifragile” benefits of trauma, redundancy and overcompensation
Nassim_Taleb  books  disorder  antifragility  randomness  toxins  trauma  redundancies  overcompensation 
december 2012 by jerryking
Taking Risk To the Marketplace
March 6, 2000 | Fortune Magazine | By Thomas A. Stewart.

* "You should always value the ability to move and change, because that creates options, and options are valuable,"
* Traditional risk management, with its emphasis on real property and financial events, isn't enough for knowledge companies, whose big risks are intellectual assets, such as brand equity, human capital, innovation, and their network of relationships.
* you have to know what's at risk-- which isn't always easy for intangible assets.
* Each intangible asset has a different risk profile.
*Thinking like a portfolio manager works for risk management as well as for strategy, says Bruce Pasternak, head of the strategic leadership practice at Booz Allen & Hamilton. In either case, adaptability is a cardinal virtue; the top goal is organizational flexibility. All-or-nothing bets like insurance have limited use in protecting cash flows from intangibles because their value is so uncertain, says Anjana Bhattacharee, director of Aporia, a British startup developing tools to manage those risks. Hedging also has problems. Says Bjarni Armannsson, head of the Icelandic Investment Bank in Reykjavik: "It's difficult to find a counterparty for intellectual risks." To hedge against falling gas prices, Enron can sell the risk to someone who fears rising prices, like a utility, but how do you hedge against a loss of expertise or brand equity

* Markets are full of risk, but it turns out that they're a lot safer than rigid structures. Intellectual assets and operations obey no one's command and are subject to discontinuous--i.e., quantum--change. There are four ways to respond to risk: Avoid it, reduce it, transfer it, or accept it. The one thing you can't do, if it's intellectual risk, is tie it up and subdue it.
Thomas_Stewart  risks  risk-management  organizational_flexibility  adaptability  binary_decisionmaking  intellectual_risks  human_capital  insurance  intellectual_assets  brand_equity  intangibles  networks  interconnections  discontinuities  expertise  portfolios  options  portfolio_management  cash_flows  generating_strategic_options  optionality  brittle  antifragility  step_change  counterparties  network_risk 
december 2012 by jerryking
Stocking stuffers
In Antifragility: Things That Gain from Disorder ($33, Random House). Nassim Nicholas Taleb examines catastrophe resistant structures with his characteristic Chutzpah. rolling his eyes at academics and risk managers alike. He can; pest-Black Swan, his career isn't fragile.

Edward N. Luttwak is both a military historian and a field operative who's worked for the US. government. so it's no surprise that The Rise of China vs. the Logic of Strategy ($26, Belknap) is both / thorough and concise. Any serious Study of foreign policy issues in Asia should start here.

Paper Promises: Money, Debt, and the New World Order ($18, Penguin) didn't get the coverage that other financial crisis tomes did. so the
paperback release of imbalances that could this masterful survey ‘5* by The Economist's E Buttonwood columnist.
Nassim_Taleb  book_reviews  booklists  books  antifragility  catastrophes  imbalances 
december 2012 by jerryking
Whatever the weather
Nov. 24, 2012 | The Financial Times News: p10.|Gillian Tett who interviews Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Until now, Taleb says, modern society has generally assumed that people, systems or institutions fell into two camps: either they were fragile (and likely to break when shocks occur) or robust (and thus able to resist shocks without being impacted at all). Taleb insists there is a third category of people, institutions and systems that are resilient in a way we have been unable to articulate: they survive shocks not because they are immovable but precisely because they do change, bending in the face of stress; adapting and learning. This is the quality that he describes as "antifragile". (In the US the book is being published with the rather more explicit subtitle "Things that Gain from Disorder".)

Taleb goes on to explain how this works: while nation-states tend to be fragile (because they are highly dependent on one vision of the nation), city-states tend to be antifragile (because they can adapt and learn from history). Careers that are based on one large employer can be fragile but careers that are flexible and entrepreneurial are antifragile, because they can move with changing times. Similarly, the banking system is fragile, while Silicon Valley is antifragile; governments that are highly indebted are fragile, while those (such as Sweden) which have learnt from past mistakes and refuse to assume too much debt are antifragile. And Switzerland is presented as one of the most antifragile places of all, partly because its decentralised structure allows for plenty of experimentation...Taleb has plenty of advice to offer us on how to become more antifragile. We should embrace unpredictable change, rather than chase after an illusion of stability; refuse to believe anyone who offers advice without taking personal risk; keep institutions and systems small and self-contained to ensure that they can fail without bringing the entire system down; build slack into our lives and systems to accommodate surprises; and, above all, recognise the impossibility of predicting anything with too much precision. Instead of building systems that are excessively "safe", Taleb argues, we should roll with the punches, learn to love the random chances of life and, above all, embrace small pieces of adversity as opportunities for improvement. "Wind extinguishes a candle and energises a fire," he writes. "Likewise with randomness, uncertainty, chaos, you want to use them, not hide from them."
adaptability  adversity  antifragility  books  chaos  city-states  Gillian_Tett  illusions  Nassim_Taleb  overcompensation  personal_risk  randomness  resilience  scheduling  self-contained  skin_in_the_game  slack_time  surprises  trauma  uncertainty  unpredictability 
november 2012 by jerryking
Antifragile
by Taleb, Nassim Nicholas.
Year/Format: 2012

Just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension, and rumors or riots intensify when someone tries to repress them, many things in life benefit from stress, disorder, volatility, and turmoil. What Taleb has identified and calls “antifragile” is that category of things that not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish.

In The Black Swan,Taleb showed us that highly improbable and unpredictable events underlie almost everything about our world. In Antifragile, Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary, and proposes that things be built in an antifragile manner. The antifragile is beyond the resilient or robust. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better and better.

Furthermore, the antifragile is immune to prediction errors and protected from adverse events. Why is the city-state better than the nation-state, why is debt bad for you, and why is what we call “efficient” not efficient at all? Why do government responses and social policies protect the strong and hurt the weak? Why should you write your resignation letter before even starting on the job? How did the sinking of theTitanicsave lives? The book spans innovation by trial and error, life decisions, politics, urban planning, war, personal finance, economic systems, and medicine. And throughout, in addition to the street wisdom of Fat Tony of Brooklyn, the voices and recipes of ancient wisdom, from Roman, Greek, Semitic, and medieval sources, are loud and clear.

Antifragile is a blueprint for living in a Black Swan world.
antifragility  Black_Swan  blueprints  bones  bone_density  books  brittle  city-states  disorder  improbables  libraries  Nassim_Taleb  revenge_effects  stressful  tension  turmoil  unpredictability  volatility 
november 2012 by jerryking
Learning to Love Volatility: Nassim Nicholas Taleb on the Antifragile
November 16, 2012 | WSJ | Nassim Nicholas Taleb

In a world that constantly throws big, unexpected events our way, we must learn to benefit from disorder, writes Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Some made the mistake of thinking that I hoped to see us develop better methods for predicting black swans. Others asked if we should just give up and throw our hands in the air: If we could not measure the risks of potential blowups, what were we to do? The answer is simple: We should try to create institutions that won't fall apart when we encounter black swans—or that might even gain from these unexpected events....To deal with black swans, we instead need things that gain from volatility, variability, stress and disorder. My (admittedly inelegant) term for this crucial quality is "antifragile." The only existing expression remotely close to the concept of antifragility is what we derivatives traders call "long gamma," to describe financial packages that benefit from market volatility. Crucially, both fragility and antifragility are measurable.

As a practical matter, emphasizing antifragility means that our private and public sectors should be able to thrive and improve in the face of disorder. By grasping the mechanisms of antifragility, we can make better decisions without the illusion of being able to predict the next big thing. We can navigate situations in which the unknown predominates and our understanding is limited.

Herewith are five policy rules that can help us to establish antifragility as a principle of our socioeconomic life.

Rule 1:Think of the economy as being more like a cat than a washing machine.

We are victims of the post-Enlightenment view that the world functions like a sophisticated machine, to be understood like a textbook engineering problem and run by wonks. In other words, like a home appliance, not like the human body. If this were so, our institutions would have no self-healing properties and would need someone to run and micromanage them, to protect their safety, because they cannot survive on their own.

By contrast, natural or organic systems are antifragile: They need some dose of disorder in order to develop. Deprive your bones of stress and they become brittle. This denial of the antifragility of living or complex systems is the costliest mistake that we have made in modern times.

Rule 2:Favor businesses that benefit from their own mistakes,not those whose mistakes percolate into the system.

Some businesses and political systems respond to stress better than others. The airline industry is set up in such a way as to make travel safer after every plane crash.

Rule 3:Small is beautiful, but it is also efficient.

Experts in business and government are always talking about economies of scale. They say that increasing the size of projects and institutions brings costs savings. But the "efficient," when too large, isn't so efficient. Size produces visible benefits but also hidden risks; it increases exposure to the probability of large losses.
Rule 4:Trial and error beats academic knowledge.
Rule 5:Decision makers must have skin in the game.

In the business world, the solution is simple: Bonuses that go to managers whose firms subsequently fail should be clawed back, and there should be additional financial penalties for those who hide risks under the rug. This has an excellent precedent in the practices of the ancients. The Romans forced engineers to sleep under a bridge once it was completed (jk: personal risk and skin in the game).
Nassim_Taleb  resilience  black_swan  volatility  turmoil  brittle  antifragility  personal_risk  trial_&_error  unknowns  size  unexpected  economies_of_scale  risks  hidden  compounded  disorder  latent  financial_penalties  Romans  skin_in_the_game  deprivations  penalties  stressful  variability 
november 2012 by jerryking
What's The Big Idea?
Mar 12, 2011 | Financial Times. pg. 28 | by James Crabtree. Forward to R. Mayot re. IdeaCity

From Davos, to Long Beach, to north Wales, 'ideas conferences' are burgeoning. But, asks James Crabtree, are they really the new crucibles for creative thinking - or just exclusive talking shops?

Aficionados of cult television know Portmeirion simply as "the village". Here, in the 1960s show The Prisoner, Patrick McGoohan insists "I am not a number, I am a free man," and plots his escape from a mysterious captive community. But, last weekend, the town hosted a different sort of exclusive gathering - and one perhaps better known for those trying to get in, not out.

Against a backdrop of pastel-painted Italianate cliff-top villas, around 120 specially invited guests descended on the Welsh coastal village for what its organisers describe as a global "thought leadership symposium". Such self-selected elite groupings seem, at first glance, to be little more than a weekend break for an already-fortunate section of the chattering classes; what one Portmeirion participant dryly described as "a socially concerned Saga mini-break, dressed up as something more serious".

But such events are also part of a wider trend in the burgeoning market for "ideas conferences" - exclusive conflabs that bring together groups of leaders with the aim of sparking creative ideas, untethered from the niche subjects, academic specialisms or industry segments that have long dominated professional events.

Examples are not hard to find. The business summit in the secluded Swiss mountain resort of Davos is the most famous. But the first week of March also saw the latest TED conference, an exclusive annual USD7,500-a-ticket gathering in Long Beach, California, dedicated to "ideas worth spreading". Elsewhere Google runs an annual invite-only conference, known as Zeitgeist, while American internet evangelist Tim O'Reilly hosts excitable technology entrepreneurs at Foo Camp, which modestly stands for "Friends of O'Reilly".

Dozens of smaller meetings are popping up too, such as Portmeirion, now in its third year and with the FT as one of its sponsors. They represent a shift in the market for conferences, now forced to be more eye-catching to attract the attention of more demanding and distracted audiences. But their blossoming also illuminates a wider trend: the growing importance of unusual ideas and rich social networks, in an economy in which information is both increasingly valuable and confusingly abundant.

Those gathered at Portmeirion this year formed an eclectic group, ranging from polymathic finance expert Nassim Nicholas Taleb to actress Miriam Margolyes and rock concert promoter Harvey Goldsmith. Elsewhere the resort's narrow streets were thronged with a mixture of senior bankers, newspaper columnists, politicians, entrepreneurs, authors and think-tank boffins.

Portmeirion itself used to be something of a salon for London's recuperating elite, hosting guests such as Noel Coward and Bertrand Russell. The idea of hosting a contemporary event there stems from this: it is the brainchild of British public relations guru Julia Hobsbawm, whose father (the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm) brought their family to the town for summer holidays.

Top-level gatherings have long been a feature of politics and international affairs. Historian Simon Schama points to The Poker Club, a distinguished salon at the heart of the Scottish Enlightenment of the late 1700s, which counted David Hume and Adam Smith among its members.

Today's ideas conferences are less serious affairs than their antecedents, with agendas that go well beyond the straitjacketed worlds of politics, foreign affairs and business. Videos, jazzy graphics and blaring music between sessions all help keep participants engaged. Informal, unscripted agenda-less "unconferences", are also popular.

A defiantly cross-disciplinary ethic marks out this new class of events, whose programmes are seemingly incomplete without sculptors, comedians and bioethicists to balance out the economists and business gurus. Portmeirion's two most memorable sessions were its most eclectic: a plea to save the seas from oceanographer Sylvia Earle, and a moving film about Indian prostitution from filmmaker Beeban Kidron.

The flipside of this variety is a certain intellectual vagueness, as organisers try to hold together a programme full of clashing insights. The gnomic theme of the most recent TED, for instance, was "the rediscovery of wonder" - featuring a live talk from an astronaut in an orbiting space station, and a demonstration of a machine that "printed" human body parts. The theme of Portmeirion, meanwhile, was simply "community and values", into which one could read just about anything.

Certainly, it isn't always clear what these conferences are meant to be about. The ideal speaker, therefore, is someone able to cross many intellectual boundaries at once [jk: does this meet the definition of "transgressive"??] - as with Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan, who kicked off the Portmeirion gathering with a magisterial address on the topic of "anti-fragility" in complex social and economic systems. His remarks ranged from mathematics and economics to political theory and Greek history, leaving attendees at once stimulated and more than a little perplexed.

There is an underlying economic rationale too. Delegates often work in professions that place a premium on finding and exploiting the ideas central to processes of innovation in modern businesses. This makes the events business-friendly too - a fact compounded by their need to win extensive corporate sponsorship, which in turn pays for the meals and accommodation that non-paying guests and speakers enjoy.

Yet if the ideas are a little fuzzy, and the business jargon a little too prevalent, this is because, more than anything, these conferences are meant as a celebration, and a test, of the individuals picked to attend - those high-powered, busy, professionally successful types who make a living telling others what they should watch, read or buy.

RSA chief executive Matthew Taylor notes the importance of intellectual cross-dressing at such events: "They allow people to throw off their professional persona for 48 hours: journalists become social theorists, businesspeople become green warriors, and academics become showmen. But on Monday morning - perhaps to everyone's secret relief - it's back to work."

Although their easygoing participants would tend to deny this, these events are a new form of elitism: a novel way of marking out a social and professional hierarchy, in which sensibility and interestingness replaces class or creed. What follows is stimulating, but also reflects the similar outlooks of the media and intellectual elite in a post-ideological world: an ersatz form of intellectualism, which might have raised an eyebrow in Eric Hobsbawm's day.

Even so, such ideas events prosper because they solve a problem faced by many at the top of their professions. The much-discussed "death of distance" never happened; globalisation and the profusion of technology makes place more important. Similarly, a world of abundant, instantly accessible information seems to make personal connection more vital. This puts a premium on private events, which force their participants to spend time developing ideas without distraction. The ideas conference is here to stay.

The Polymath

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

As the guru credited with spotting the unexpected "black swan" events behind the global financial meltdown, Nassim Nicholas Taleb (illustration above) has a track record for spotting unusual ideas. He worries that we have still not learnt the lessons of the crisis, identifying ongoing major threats arising from "expert problems". The risk, he notes, is that "a pseudo-expert astrologist doesn't have many damaging side- effects, but a pseudo-expert economist certainly does".

Taleb is sceptical of some ideas gatherings. Davos is a particular bugbear; he turns down the annual invitation on the grounds that it is "too big, on the wrong topics, and with the wrong people". Other events have their problems too - in particular their tendency to turn "scientists into entertainers and circus performers".

Taleb is currently developing his thinking for a forthcoming book, which he describes as a deeper "volume two" of the themes he explored in The Black Swan. His new big idea is "anti-fragility", or the stability that comes from decentralised, complex systems - such as those found in nature (i.e. biomimicry), or artisan industries - which allow regular small acts of self-destruction, but adapt to keep the system as a whole stable. He contrasts this with fragile, centralised systems - such as the post-crisis banking industry - which prop up their failing parts.

The Agent

Caroline Michel

It is the books with the "big themes" that sell well nowadays, explains Caroline Michel (below), one of London's leading literary agents. Her job, she says, is one in which "amazing people come to me with brilliant ideas, and it is my job to work out what to do with them". In this role she styles herself as part of a new class of "professional mediators", a cadre of ideas professionals whose role it is to weed out "Pot-Noodle knowledge", and give the public new ways to find the valuable information they need.

Consequently, she is a confirmed ideas conference fan, citing book gatherings such as the annual Hay Festival as a source of inspiration. But when facing "an extraordinary spaghetti of knowledge and information", she says, even knowledge professionals find themselves struggling to "to pull through strands" they can understand. A world in which "we have access to this huge mass of information, and in which we are all instant doctors and instant reporters" therefore only increases the importance of those few "people you trust to show you the way through it" - and makes doubly important the chance to listen to them, and to interact with them, in person.

The Entrepreneur

Will … [more]
antifragility  conferences  cross-disciplinary  cross-pollination  David_Hume  Davos  fragility  hierarchies  ideas  ideaCity  invitation-only  Nassim_Taleb  self-destructive  TED  Tim_O'Reilly  thinking_big  trend_spotting  Zeitgeist 
march 2011 by jerryking
Active inertia is the enemy of survival
Oct 8, 2009 | Financial Times pg. 16 | Book review by Richard
Donkin of Donald Sull's The Upside of Turbulence ; Seizing Opportunity
in an Uncertain World ; Harper Business, $27.99/pound(s)18.99. "the
risk, says Sull, is that complacency sets in as companies and their
bosses begin to believe their own press during the good times. The CEO
on the cover of a business magazine, a boss who looks like all the rest,
a grand headquarters - all are examples of companies resting on their
laurels.
Sull concentrates on building agility in business, allowing companies to
shift resources quickly from less promising to faster-growing areas.
Some companies, such as Johnson & Johnson, P & G and Samsung,
have cultivated portfolio agility at the heart of their businesses, he
says. Sull argues that the best companies are able to absorb the shocks
of market turbulence, using cash and profits from their strongest
business streams to cushion the effects of unforeseen events."
book_reviews  Donald_Sull  resilience  upside  turbulence  adversity  complacency  cost_of_inaction  inertia  Samsung  P&G  books  Johnson_&_Johnson  agility  uncertainty  unexpected  unforeseen  antifragility 
october 2009 by jerryking

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