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We need to be better at predicting bad outcomes
September 2019 | Financial Times | by Tim Harford.

A question some of us ask all too often, and some of us not often enough: what if it all [jk: our plan] goes wrong?.....we don’t think about worst-case scenarios in the right way......
The first problem is that our sense of risk is pretty crude. The great psychologist Amos Tversky joked that most of us have three categories when thinking about probabilities: “gonna happen”, “not gonna happen” and “maybe”.....It would be helpful if our sense of risk was a little more refined; intuitively, it is hard to grasp the difference between a risk of one in a billion and that of one in a thousand. Yet, for a gambler — or someone in the closely related business of insurance — there is all the difference in the world.....research by Barbara Mellers, Philip Tetlock and Hal Arkes suggests that making a serious attempt to put probabilities on uncertain future events might help us in other ways: the process makes us more humble, more moderate and better able to discern shades of grey. Trying to forecast is about more than a successful prediction......we can become sidetracked by the question of whether the worst case is likely. Rather than asking “will this happen?”, we should ask “what would we do if it did?”

The phrase “worst-case scenario” probably leads us astray: anyone can dream up nightmare scenarios.....To help us think sensibly about these worst-case possibilities, Gary Klein, psychologist and author of Seeing What Others Don’t, has argued for conducting “pre-mortems” — or hypothetical postmortems. Before embarking on a project, imagine receiving a message from the future: the project failed, and spectacularly. Now ask yourself: why? Risks and snares will quickly suggest themselves — often risks that can be anticipated and prevented.......Contingency planning is not always easy......woes that would result both as the “base case” (the truth) and a “worst-case scenario” (the government sucking in its stomach while posing for a selfie).
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In our increasingly airbrushed world, it becomes ever more necessary to ask the unfashionable questions like ‘what could possibly go wrong?’ - and then plan for it...
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Humanity's survival may well rely on the ability of our imaginations to explore alternative futures in order to begin building the communities that can forestall or endure worst-case catastrophes.
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Amos_Tversky  anticipating  base_rates  beforemath  books  contingency_planning  discernment  failure  forecasting  foresight  frequency_and_severity  humility  nuanced  predictions  preparation  probabilities  risk-assessment  risks  Tim_Harford  uncertainty  worst-case 
september 2019 by jerryking
Risk Management Reports
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Search Google for risk info rmr amrdec 97

December 1997 Volume 24, No. 12. The trick in risk management,
perhaps, is in recognizing that normal is not a (default) state of nature but a
state of transition, and trend is not destiny. . . ." (Sept. 1, 1997). Peter Bernstein
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John Adams, author of Risk University College London Press, London, 1995
Peter_Bernstein  risk-management  risks  book_reviews  base_rates  ephemerality  transient  impermanence  trends  transitions  normality  quotes 
april 2018 by jerryking
3 Ways to Improve Your Decision Making
Walter Frick
JANUARY 22, 2018

Rule #1: Be less certain.
Nobel-prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman has said that overconfidence is the bias he’d eliminate first if he had a magic wand. It’s ubiquitous, particularly among men, the wealthy, and even experts. Overconfidence is not a universal phenomenon — it depends on factors including culture and personality — but the chances are good that you’re more confident about each step of the decision-making process than you ought to be.

So, the first rule of decision making is to just be less certain — about everything. Think choice A will lead to outcome B? It’s probably a bit less likely than you believe. Think outcome B is preferable to outcome C? You’re probably too confident about that as well.

Once you accept that you’re overconfident, you can revisit the logic of your decision. What else would you think about if you were less sure that A would cause B, or that B is preferable to C? Have you prepared for a dramatically different outcome than your expected one?

Rule #2: Ask “How often does that typically happen?”
....think about how long similar projects typically take....In general, research suggests, the best starting point for predictions ­— a key input into decision making — is to ask “How often does that typically happen?”
This rule, known as the base rate, comes up a lot in the research on prediction, but it might be helpful for the judgment side of decision making, too. If you think outcome B is preferable to outcome C, you might ask: How often has that historically been the case? ...The idea with both prediction and judgment is to get away from the “inside view,” where the specifics of the decision overwhelm your analysis. Instead, you want to take the “outside view,” where you start with similar cases before considering the specifics of your individual case.

Rule #3: Think probabilistically — and learn some basic probability.
The first two rules can be implemented right away; this one takes a bit of time. But it’s worth it. Research has shown that even relatively basic training in probability makes people better forecasters and helps them avoid certain cognitive biases....Improving your ability to think probabilistically will help you with the first two rules. You’ll be able to better express your uncertainty and to numerically think about “How often does this usually happen?” The three rules together are more powerful than any of them alone.

Even though these rules are all things you can start using relatively quickly, mastering them takes practice. In fact, after you use them for a little while, you may become overconfident about your ability to make decisions. Great decision makers don’t follow these rules only when facing a particularly difficult choice; they return to them all the time. They recognize that even seemingly easy decisions can be hard — and that they probably know less than they think
decision_making  pretense_of_knowledge  base_rates  probabilities  Daniel_Kahneman  overconfidence  biases  certainty 
january 2018 by jerryking
Some of the Wisest Words Ever Spoken About Investing - MoneyBeat - WSJ
By JASON ZWEIG
Nov 25, 2016

Investing is often portrayed as a battle between you and the markets. Instead, Graham wrote, “the investor’s chief problem — and even his worst enemy — is likely to be himself.”

Evaluating yourself honestly is at least as important as evaluating your investments accurately. If you don’t force yourself to learn your limits as an investor, then it doesn’t matter how much you learn about the markets: Your emotions will be your undoing....Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman with his book Thinking, Fast and Slow.
I’m especially grateful that he taught me this: “The most important question is, ‘What is the base rate?’”....Michael Mauboussin, a strategist at Credit Suisse, has taken that hint and compiled base rates for all sorts of corporate measures, so investors can readily check a company’s projections against reality.....From the economist and investing writer Peter Bernstein, who died in 2009, I learned about Pascal’s wager: You must weigh not only the alluring probabilities of being right, but the dire consequences of being wrong....Finally, Mr. Bernstein never tired of emphasizing that we can never know the future — least of all at the very moments when it seems most certain....Richard Dawkins pointed out in a lecture in 1996, many of us today know more about the world around us than Aristotle, the greatest mind of his age, did more than 2,300 years ago: “Science is cumulative, and we live later.”

Investing knowledge is also cumulative, and we all benefit from those who have already learned — and taught — how it works.
investing  investors  gratitude  Peter_Bernstein  wisdom  economists  Jason_Zweig  ETFs  books  Benjamin_Graham  pretense_of_knowledge  base_rates  Michael_Mauboussin  self-awareness  self-analysis  self-reflective  proclivities  probabilities  Pascal’s_wager  Daniel_Kahneman  delusions  self-delusions  emotions  Achilles’_heel  cumulative  Nobel_Prizes 
november 2016 by jerryking
How to make good guesses
| FT | Tim Harford

“base rate”,

Base rates are not just a forecasting aid. They’re vital in clearly understanding and communicating all manner of risks. We routinely hear claims of the form that eating two rashers of bacon a day raises the risk of bowel cancer by 18 per cent. But without a base rate (how common is bowel cancer?) this information is not very useful. As it happens, in the UK, bowel cancer affects six out of 100 people; a bacon-rich diet would cause one additional case of bowel cancer per 100 people.

Thinking about base rates is particularly important when we’re considering screening programmes or other diagnostic tests, including DNA tests for criminal cases.
base_rates  communicating_risks  economics  forecasting  guessing  howto  predictions  probabilities  Tim_Harford  ratios 
april 2016 by jerryking
What to Do Before Disaster Strikes - WSJ.com
September 27, 2005 | WSJ | By GEORGE ANDERS.

What's missing is a systematic way of approaching corporate self-defense. Each potential calamity is treated in isolation....Sheffi believes that companies need to start by cataloging what could go wrong. General Motors Corp., for example, has created "vulnerability maps" that identify more than 100 hazards, ranging from wind damage to embezzlement. Such maps make it easier for managers to focus on areas of greatest risk or gravest peril. He implies that normal budgeting -- which matches the cost of doing something against the risk-adjusted cost of doing nothing -- can determine which battles against vulnerability are worth fighting....Mr. Sheffi nods approvingly at some ingenious ways to mobilize for trouble before it arrives. Federal Express Corp., he says, puts two empty planes in the air each night, just so they can swoop into any airport with a grounded plane and take over delivery services as fast as possible. Wall Street firms have recently added similar redundancy with multiple data centers, so that a New York City crisis won't imperil their record-keeping.

Intel Corp. (post-Heathrow) gets a thumbs-up, too, for finding a sly way of outwitting airport thieves. It couldn't control every aspect of security in transit -- but it could change its box design. Rather than boast about "Intel inside," the company switched to drab, unmarked packaging that gave no hint of $6 million cargoes. The name for this approach: "Security through obscurity." (jk: security consciousness)
disaster_preparedness  risk-management  book_reviews  mapping  security_&_intelligence  redundancies  vulnerabilities  rate-limiting_steps  business-continuity  thinking_tragically  obscurity  cost_of_inaction  base_rates  isolated  GM  Fedex  Intel  risk-adjusted  self-defense  Wall_Street  high-risk  budgeting  disasters  beforemath  risks  George_Anders  catastrophes  natural_calamities  systematic_approaches  security_consciousness  record-keeping  hazards 
may 2012 by jerryking
Wealth and Fitness Secret – Ratios - Rich Karlgaard - Innovation Rules -
Dec. 21 2010 | Forbes | Rich Karlgaard. Success is often a
matter of getting the ratios right. Business and investing success is
hardly possible without understanding ratios. Knowing the numbers is
important. But knowing the numbers in relation to other numbers will
make you a millionaire. You will see anomalies that others miss. I’ll
never forget a comment made by George Soros in July 2008, when oil was
$147.50 a barrel. A Goldman Sachs analyst had predicted oil was headed
to $200, but Soros knew better. Why? Because oil was already too
expensive compared to gold. At $147.50, oil was 1:6 the price of gold.
The normal ratio band is 1:10 to 1:15, said Soros. Either gold had to
rise, or oil had to fall. Because Soros could not see any inflation that
might drive gold higher, oil had to fall.
anomalies  base_rates  contextual_intelligence  fingerspitzengefühl  George_Soros  insights  jck  ksfs  lessons_learned  life_skills  metrics  moguls  pattern_recognition  proportionality  ratios  Rich_Karlgaard 
december 2010 by jerryking
A dizzying world of insight lurks beyond the averages
Aug 27, 2007 | The Globe & Mail pg. B.6 | by George
Stalk Jr. "A gloriously rich world is hidden from us by "averages." We
manage our lives and our businesses with averages....But as soon as we
choose an average on which to make a decision, we cut ourselves off from
more nuanced information that might lead to a better
decision....drill[ing] down behind the averages can yield rich insights.
What businesses are we in? Where are the opportunities to raise
prices? How fast can we grow this business? How much time does it
really take us to do things? Other intriguing, insightful questions
include: How much money does it take to run this business? Just what do
our customers want? Where do we make our money in this business? Who
are our real competitors? Do our averages conceal sources of
competitive advantage? Looking behind the averages often yields new
strategic and operational paradigms that can help make better decisions
and ensure they are acted upon daily.
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identify anomalies in the first place. Knowing the average margins and market share isn’t enough; look at the entire range of outcomes—across customers, geographies, products, and the like. This allows you to surface out-of-the-ordinary results for closer inspection. (June 18, 2007 | G&M pg. B8 | George Stalk Jr).
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base_rates  George_Stalk_Jr.  strategic_thinking  insights  BCG  management_consulting  competitive_advantage  questions  extremes  laggards  decision_making  anomalies  leading-edge  quizzes  ratios  second-order  averages  5_W’s 
october 2009 by jerryking
The Gripping Statistic : How to Make Your Data Matter
Mon Aug 10, 2009 | Fast Company | By Dan Heath & Chip
Heath. A good statistic is one that aids a decision or shapes an opinion. For a stat to do either of those, it must be dragged within the everyday (e.g. using ratios or useful analogies). That's your job -- to do the dragging. In our world of billions and trillions, that can be a lot of manual labor. But it's worth it: A number people can grasp is a number that can make a difference.
analogies  base_rates  Cisco  Communicating_&_Connecting  contextual  data  data_journalism  high-impact  mathematics  narratives  numeracy  persuasion  probabilities  ratios  statistics  storytelling  sense-making  value_creation 
september 2009 by jerryking
reportonbusiness.com: Best to deliver bad news facts
February 18, 2009 G&M column by SUSAN PINKER. When it
comes to bad news, we first protect ourselves, and then we protect
others through "Denial". When there's really bad news, there's reliable
evidence that it really is best to face the facts. First, you have to
know what the bad news is, what the outcomes are, what the percentages
are," Dr. Feldman says. "Then you have to give people options. You have
to give them some power - ideas about how they're going to manage
because you don't just leave them hanging there. You have to hold out
some hope."
anomalies  base_rates  Communicating_&_Connecting  crisis  difficult_conversations  forecasting  generating_strategic_options  guessing  managing_people  predictions  probabilities  ratios  Susan_Pinker  face_the_facts  bad_news 
february 2009 by jerryking

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