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jerryking : complexity   39

Opinion: Coronavirus will change the world. It might also lead to a better future
March 5, 2020 | The Globe and Mail | by THOMAS HOMER-DIXON.
SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
PUBLISHED MARCH 5, 2020

What’s happening in response to the worldwide spread of the SARS CoV-2 virus (and COVID-19, the disease it causes) is a vivid example of a global 'tipping event,' in which multiple social systems flip simultaneously to a distinctly new state.
complexity  COVID-19  disease  epidemics  flu_outbreaks  pandemics  Thomas_Homer-Dixon  tipping_points 
28 days ago by jerryking
Ikea dismantles tradition to seek inspiration from car industry
October 2, 2019 | Financial Times Richard Milne in Oslo.

Sometimes the complexity of their own companies can surprise top managers. Torbjorn Loof, chief executive of the owner of the Ikea brand, looks wide-eyed as he describes how the furniture retailer has nearly 100 different cabinets, sometimes with only 4-5 millimetres difference between models.

In storage solutions it has Pax wardrobes, Godmorgon bathroom cabinets, Metod in the kitchen and Besta in the living room — similar products but with subtly different heights or widths, making things difficult not just for the customer but also for Ikea itself.

So the world’s largest furniture retailer has looked to the car industry for inspiration. Platforms have dramatically changed the process of making cars — different models with vastly different pricing can be built on the same basic chassis. Changes are made between models on the things customers see — like the dashboard and entertainment systems — but much of the back-end that is invisible to drivers can be common.

Now Ikea is looking to bring platforms into home furnishing....Ikea is experimenting with city-centre and smaller shops as well as services such as home delivery and assembly. It is looking into renting out furniture instead of selling it, and smart home technology that brings it up against Silicon Valley.

Its platform initiative is one of its most important, albeit largely invisible to customers. Much still remains to be worked out such as just how much is common between different products — a dilemma recognisable from the car industry where Volkswagen faced complaints that there was little difference between VW and Skoda models except for the price.....standardisation should lead to lower prices for both it and customers. ....“How can we scale up in an efficient way? It’s difficult if we make each product uniquely. With platforms, it’s easier to adjust to new markets,” ...The new approach is not without risks though. Developing new platforms can be a costly business and in the car industry has often led to just as much complexity as before, particularly in companies like VW that are known for overengineering their vehicles, or confusion among consumers as to how big a difference there is between supposedly rival products.

Mr Loof is aware of the problem. “We need to define what makes sense to have on the platform and what not,” he says. “If you go too far you can arguably say you have decreased your range offer.”....for the furniture group, facing the same rapid changes in the retail landscape that have caused dozens of brands to fail, there is a feeling that it needs to do as much as it can even if it is likely to have failures on the way.
automotive_industry  CEOs  complexity  furniture  home_furnishing  Ikea  inspiration  platforms  retailers  risks  small_spaces  standardization  Torbjörn_Lööf 
october 2019 by jerryking
How to Prepare for the Next Recession: Automate the Rescue Plan
Suppan
San Diego 4h ago
As someone with an engineering background (both education and mindset) this kind of simplistic design of complex systems is very concerning.

If anyone remembers Nassim Tal...
complexity  economic_downturn  ecosystems  financial_crises  howto  letters_to_the_editor  modelling  models  Nassim_Taleb  oversimplification  preparation  recessions 
may 2019 by jerryking
Cake shop management cannot suffice for a modern economy.
Feb 28, 2019 | Kaieteur News | Columnists, Peeping Tom.

Cake shop management cannot suffice for a modern economy.

The style of governance since political Independence has not been conducive to development. It is ill-suited for modernization. Given the expansive nature of relations and issues which governments have to address, there is a need for greater devolution of power. Centralized government can no longer cope with the multiple, overlapping and multilayered aspects of governance.......Guyana, however, is going in the opposite direction. The more modern the bureaucracy, the more swollen and overstaffed it becomes. The more complex government becomes, the more centralized is decision-making. The greater demands on resources, the bigger the bureaucracy.
The public bureaucracy is now a cancer. It is sucking the life out of public administration. Merely keeping this inefficient and revenue-guzzling monstrosity alive is costing taxpayers in excess of 500 million dollars per day. This is wanton wastage. That money could have been put to help boost private sector development to create jobs for the thousands of young people who are unemployed. The more the government implements technology, the more inefficient it becomes. It is all part of what is known as cake shop management........Guyana is going to continue to be left behind the rest of the world. It has seen Guyana retrogress and we will always be in a fire fighting mode rather than ensuring forward thinking and planning. A country today simply cannot be run like a cake shop. The world is too modern, and too many things are taking place to allow for such a style of governance. Once the policy is made by the government, the mechanics should be left to lower level officials who should be held accountable for ensuring its implementation and who should be held responsible for any failures........What is required is for faster decision-making so as to allow for the multitasking.........Plantain chips and breadfruit chips and other small businesses cannot make the economy grow. It cannot generate the massive jobs needed to impact on unemployment. It will not lift large numbers out of poverty. This is catch-hand approach to helping poor people.
Cake shop management cannot run a modern economy. Never has; never will.
bureaucracies  centralization  complexity  decision_making  devolution  Guyana  inefficiencies  modernization  policymaking  public_sector  public_servants  technology  traffic_congestion  forward-thinking  multitasking  decentralization  digital_economy  governance  knowledge_economy  centralized_control  implementation  unsophisticated 
march 2019 by jerryking
Opinion | Warning! Everything Is Going Deep: ‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’
Jan. 29, 2019 | The New York Times | By Thomas L. Friedman, Opinion Columnist.

Recent advances in the speed and scope of digitization, connectivity, big data and artificial intelligence are now taking us “deep” into places and into powers that we’ve never experienced before — and that governments have never had to regulate before. I’m talking about deep learning, deep insights, deep surveillance, deep facial recognition, deep voice recognition, deep automation and deep artificial minds.

Some of these technologies offer unprecedented promise and some unprecedented peril — but they’re all now part of our lives. Everything is going deep........how did we get so deep down where the sharks live?

The short answer: Technology moves up in steps, and each step, each new platform, is usually biased toward a new set of capabilities. Around the year 2000 we took a huge step up that was biased toward connectivity, because of the explosion of fiber-optic cable, wireless and satellites.

Suddenly connectivity became so fast, cheap, easy for you and ubiquitous that it felt like you could touch someone whom you could never touch before and that you could be touched by someone who could never touch you before.

Around 2007, we took another big step up. The iPhone, sensors, digitization, big data, the internet of things, artificial intelligence and cloud computing melded together and created a new platform that was biased toward abstracting complexity at a speed, scope and scale we’d never experienced before.....as big data got really big, as broadband got really fast, as algorithms got really smart, as 5G got actually deployed, artificial intelligence got really intelligent. So now, with no touch — but just a voice command or machines acting autonomously — we can go so much deeper in so many areas....DeepMind, the artificial intelligence arm of Google’s parent, developed an A.I. program, AlphaGo, that has now defeated the world’s top human players of the ancient strategy game Go — which is much more complex than chess — by learning from human play......Today “virtual agents” — using conversational interfaces powered by artificial intelligence — can increasingly understand your intent... just by hearing your voice.....The percentage of calls a chatbot, or virtual agent, is able to handle without turning the caller over to a person is called its “containment rate,” and these rates are steadily soaring. ....But bad guys, who are always early adopters, also see the same potential to go deep in wholly new ways.....On Jan. 20, The London Observer looked at Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff’s new book, the title of which perfectly describes the deep dark waters we’ve entered: “The Age of Surveillance Capital.”....“Surveillance capitalism,” Zuboff wrote, “unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioral data. Although some of these data are applied to service improvement, the rest are declared as a proprietary behavioral surplus, fed into advanced manufacturing processes known as ‘machine intelligence,’ and fabricated into prediction products that anticipate what you will do now, soon and later. Finally, these prediction products are traded in a new kind of marketplace that I call behavioral futures markets. Surveillance capitalists have grown immensely wealthy from these trading operations, for many companies are willing to lay bets on our future behavior.”
5G  algorithms  AlphaGo  artificial_intelligence  automation  books  chatbots  complexity  connectivity  dark_side  DeepMind  digitalization  gaming_the_system  human_experience  massive_data_sets  patterns  rogue_actors  surveillance_profiteers  surveillance_state  Tom_Friedman  trustworthiness  virtual_assistants 
january 2019 by jerryking
Piecing Together Narratives From the 0′s and 1′s: Storytelling in the Age of Big Data - CIO Journal. - WSJ
Feb 16, 2018 | WSJ | By Irving Wladawsky-Berger.

Probabilities are inherently hard to grasp, especially for an individual event like a war or an election, ......Why is it so hard for people to deal with probabilities in everyday life? “I think part of the answer lies with Kahneman’s insight: Human beings need a story,”....Mr. Kahneman explained their research in his 2011 bestseller Thinking, Fast and Slow. Its central thesis is that our mind is composed of two very different systems of thinking. System 1 is the intuitive, fast and emotional part of our mind. Thoughts come automatically and very quickly to System 1, without us doing anything to make them happen. System 2, on the other hand, is the slower, logical, more deliberate part of the mind. It’s where we evaluate and choose between multiple options, because only System 2 can think of multiple things at once and shift its attention between them.

System 1 typically works by developing a coherent story based on the observations and facts at its disposal. Research has shown that the intuitive System 1 is actually more influential in our decisions, choices and judgements than we generally realize. But, while enabling us to act quickly, System 1 is prone to mistakes. It tends to be overconfident, creating the impression that we live in a world that’s more coherent and simpler than the actual real world. It suppresses complexity and information that might contradict its coherent story.

Making sense of probabilities, numbers and graphs requires us to engage System 2, which, for most everyone, takes quite a bit of focus, time and energy. Thus, most people will try to evaluate the information using a System 1 simple story: who will win the election? who will win the football game?.....Storytelling has played a central role in human communications since times immemorial. Over the centuries, the nature of storytelling has significantly evolved with the advent of writing and the emergence of new technologies that enabled stories to be embodied in a variety of media, including books, films, and TV. Everything else being equal, stories are our preferred way of absorbing information.

“It’s not enough to say an event has a 10 percent probability,” wrote Mr. Leonhardt. “People need a story that forces them to visualize the unlikely event – so they don’t round 10 to zero.”.....
in_the_real_world  storytelling  massive_data_sets  probabilities  Irving_Wladawsky-Berger  Communicating_&_Connecting  Daniel_Kahneman  complexity  uncertainty  decision_making  metacognition  data_journalism  sense-making  thinking_deliberatively 
february 2018 by jerryking
Preparing Young Americans for a Complex World - The New York Times
the American economy is inextricably linked to the global economy. It’s estimated that one-fifth of jobs here are now tied to international trade. Moreover, many of the world’s major challenges — climate change, instability in financial markets, food and water insecurity, infectious diseases, migration, war and terrorism — are complex, interdependent and borderless. And with 40 million foreign-born residents, the United States is itself a global society with deep emotional ties to many nations and cultures. To survive and thrive, Americans have to learn how to manage greater complexity and collaborate across lines of difference.
complexity  globalization  international_trade  global_economy 
february 2017 by jerryking
Why Samsung Abandoned Its Galaxy Note 7 Flagship Phone
OCT. 11, 2016 | The New York Times | By BRIAN X. CHEN and CHOE SANG-HUN.

How quickly Samsung will emerge from the Note 7 fiasco is less clear. The company is facing an immediate, and substantial, financial blow. Perhaps more worrisome is how people may lose trust in the Samsung brand. An editorial in South Korea’s largest newspaper, the Chosun Ilbo, said: “You cannot really calculate the loss of consumer trust in money.” It said that Samsung must realize that it “didn’t take many years for Nokia to tumble from its position as the world’s top cellphone maker.”
Samsung  product_recalls  mobile_phones  batteries  complexity  brands  reputation 
october 2016 by jerryking
Peter's Principles, Market Research and Forecasting Article | Inc.com
Excerpts and thoughts on "Adventures of a Bystander"

Drucker looks for simplicity but likes to convey complexity. He loves simplicity but realizes that getting there means making connections: to the past, to related fields. He answers questions by trotting through history, art, science. Listening to him, you learn not just the answer but also how to make connections between disparate subjects and thus deepen your understanding. It makes you, the listener, more valuable as an adviser and teacher.

History is Drucker's primary tool for complexifying. "I'm not a professional historian," he says, "but I've learned that nothing helps me as much in my work as a little bit of historical knowledge about a country, technology, or industry. Every few years I pick another major topic and read in it for three years. It's not long enough to make me an expert, but it's long enough to understand what the field is all about. I've been doing this for 60 years."
Peter_Drucker  advice  simplicity  complexity  consigliere  history  interconnections  connecting_the_dots  contextual  industry_expertise 
april 2015 by jerryking
The Evolving Automotive Ecosystem - The CIO Report - WSJ
April 6, 2015| WSJ | By IRVING WLADAWSKY-BERGER.

An issue in many other industries. Will the legacy industry leaders be able to embrace the new digital technologies, processes and culture, or will they inevitably fall behind their faster moving, more culturally adept digital-native competitors? [the great game]

(1) Find new partners and dance: “The structure of the automotive industry will likely change rapidly. Designing and producing new vehicles have become far too complex and expensive for any likely one company to manage all on its own.
(2) Become data masters: “Know your customers better than they know themselves. Use that data to curate every aspect of the customer experience from when they first learn about the car to the dealership experience and throughout the customer life cycle. Having data scientists on staff will likely be the rule, not the exception.
(3) Update your economic models: “Predicting demand was hard enough in the old days, when you did a major new product launch approximately every five years. Now, with the intensity of competition, the rapid cadence of new launches, and the mashup of consumer and automotive technology, you may need new economic models for predicting demand, capital expenditures, and vehicle profitability.
(4)Tame complexity: “It’s all about the center stack, the seamless connectivity with nomadic devices, the elegance of the Human Machine Interface.
(5) Create adaptable organizations: “It will take a combination of new hard and soft skills to build the cars and the companies of the future. For many older, established companies, that means culture change, bringing in new talent, and rethinking every aspect of process and people management.
Apple  automotive_industry  autonomous_vehicles  ecosystems  Google  know_your_customer  adaptability  CIOs  layer_mastery  competitive_landscape  competitive_strategy  connected_devices  telematics  data  data_driven  data_scientists  customer_experience  curation  structural_change  accelerated_lifecycles  UX  complexity  legacy_players  business_development  modelling  Irving_Wladawsky-Berger  SMAC_stack  cultural_change  digitalization  connected_cars  the_great_game 
april 2015 by jerryking
Are we witnessing a comeback of the Stars and Stripes? - The Globe and Mail
JOHN STACKHOUSE
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Sep. 26 2014

America’s retreat was the central question. Had the superpower become a super-bystander? Or had the President just lost interest, energy and credibility to do more than moralize?...Mr. Obama has drawn instead on what he calls “progressive pragmatism,” which his aides claim is his nature, relying on an informal network of networks, ad hoc groups of nations taking on the challenges of the day. Some of them champion liberal values. Some are partners of convenience. Exhibit A: the coalition of willing Arab states in this week’s air strikes. Exhibit B: the network of health agencies and charities operating with U.S. support in ebola-stricken West Africa....On the grander issues of his age – climate change, cyber-security, the financial imbalance between America and Asia – Mr. Obama will need ad hoc networks like never before. The 2008 financial crisis was mitigated by a small group of central bankers, commercial bankers, regulators and finance ministers, supported but not directed by the United States. A president who is not renowned for building private-sector trust, or the loyalty of other nations, may be challenged to do that again. He also needs what America has lacked of late – for its allies to do more. Canada’s approach to carbon emissions is the sort of passive resistance the U.S. has encountered from India on trade, Mexico on immigration and Turkey on Syria. Under Mr. Obama, everyone has loved to complain about Washington, but few have been willing to shoulder their share of the costs.

Skeptics believe this is no longer possible – the world has too many strong voices, too many competing interests, too much of what physicists call entropy, the thermodynamic condition that degenerates order into chaos.
America_in_Decline?  bouncing_back  U.S.foreign_policy  multipolarity  Obama  John_Stackhouse  G20  UN  NATO  Iran  Ukraine  geopolitics  complexity  networks  interconnections  instability  superpowers  indispensable  disequilibriums  ad_hoc  nobystanders  entropy  imbalances 
september 2014 by jerryking
The need for an analytical approach to life
November 3, 2013 | FT.com | By Rebecca Knight.

Risk analysis is not about predicting events; it’s about understanding the probability of possible scenarios, according to Elisabeth Paté-Cornell, professor at the Stanford School of Engineering.
In her latest research, she argues that expressions such as “black swan” and “perfect storm”, which have become journalistic shorthand when describing catastrophes, are just excuses for poor planning. Managers, should “think like engineers” and take a systematic approach to risk analysis. They should figure out how a system works and then identify the probable ways in which it could fail.
So does a black swan event exist?
The only one that I can think of is the Aids epidemic. In the case of a true black swan, you cannot anticipate it.
And what about ‘perfect storms’?
A combination of rare events is often referred to as a perfect storm. I think people underestimate the probability of them because they wrongly assume that the elements of a perfect storm are independent. If something happened in the past – even though it may not have happened at the same time as something else – it is likely to happen again in the future.
Why should managers take an engineering approach to analysing the probability of perfect storms?
Engineering risk analysts think in terms of systems – their functional components and their dependencies. If you’re in charge of risk management for your business, you need to see the interdependencies of any of the risks you’re managing: how the markets that you operate in are interrelated, for example.
You also need imagination. Several bad things can happen at once. Some of these are human errors and once you make a mistake, others are more likely to happen. This is because of the sequence of human error. When something bad happens or you make a mistake, you get distracted which means you’re more likely to make another mistake, which could lead to another bad event. When you make an error, stop and think. Anticipate and protect yourself.
How can you compute the likelihood of human error?
There are lots of ways to use systems analysis to calculate the probability of human error. Human errors are often rooted in the way an organisation is managed: either people are not skilled enough to do their jobs well; they do not have enough information; or they have the wrong incentives. If you’re paid for maximum production you’re going to take risks.
So in the case of a financial company I’d say monitor your traders, and maybe especially those that make a lot of money. There are a lot of ways you can make a lot of money: skill, luck, or through imprudent choices that sooner or later are going to catch up with you.
So you can do risk analysis even without reliable statistics?
We generally do a system-based risk analysis because we do not have reliable statistics. The goal is to look ahead and use the information we have to assess the chances that things might go wrong.
The upshot is that business schools ought to do a better job of teaching MBAs about probability.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
“Numbers make intangibles tangible,” said Jonah Lehrer, a journalist and
author of “How We Decide,” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009). “They
give the illusion of control. [Add "sense of control" to tags]
9/11  Aids  anticipating  attitudes  black_swan  business_schools  catastrophes  complexity  compounded  cumulative  engineering  HIV  human_errors  imagination  incentives  interconnections  interdependence  MBAs  mindsets  multiple_stressors  pretense_of_knowledge  probabilities  risk-management  thinking_tragically  quantified_self  risks  risk-analysis  self-protection  sense_of_control  shorthand  Stanford  synchronicity  systematic_approaches  systems_thinking  warning_signs 
november 2013 by jerryking
When Complexity Is Free - NYTimes.com
September 14, 2013 | NYT | By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN.
(Charles Waud & WaudWare)
When everything and everyone becomes connected, and complexity is free and innovation is both dirt-cheap and can come from anywhere, the world of work changes.
Tom_Friedman  GE  Industrial_Internet  interconnections  massive_data_sets  crowdsourcing  business_models  complexity  3-D  contests  prognostics  innovation 
september 2013 by jerryking
Raise the Great Lakes? If only it were so simple
Jun. 10 2013 | The Globe and Mail | by Lana Pollack

I support the principal findings of the IJC’s Advice to Governments, especially that we invest in understanding how to best manage and live with extreme water levels with adaptive management. And I wouldn’t object if the governments studied the costs, consequences and engineering challenges associated with installing adjustable structures in the St. Clair River. But I don’t want to contribute to the false belief that today’s extreme low levels can be largely explained by 50- to 150-year-old dredging projects. The science points to complexities with a lot of flashing yellow lights warning us to go slow in considering the best way forward.
Great_Lakes  crossborder  water  complexity 
june 2013 by jerryking
When Simplicity Is the Solution - WSJ.com
March 29, 2013 | WSJ |By ALAN SIEGEL and IRENE ETZKORN
simplicity  complexity 
march 2013 by jerryking
Hillary Clinton’s Diplomatic Legacy
February 11, 2013 | The New Yorker | by George Packer.

The criticism that there is no encompassing “Obama doctrine” misses the point. Geopolitics today is too complex, messy, and various to be bent to America’s will by an overarching doctrine like containment, or a massive initiative like the Marshall Plan, or a single breakthrough like Nixon’s trip to China. A doctrine was what put the country in a deep hole; climbing out required restraint, flexibility, and opportunism. A first-term Secretary of State with one grand strategic vision wouldn’t have matched the demands of the moment, which called for a fox, not a hedgehog....The standard debates in American foreign policy—realism vs. idealism, heavy footprint vs. light footprint—don’t get to the heart of the problem with Obama’s foreign policy. It’s not that diplomatic engagement is the wrong approach; it’s just that the President’s first four years have given us the idea of diplomacy more than the thing itself. In a forthcoming book, “The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat,” Vali Nasr, a former adviser under Hillary Clinton and the late Richard Holbrooke, argues that, from North Africa to Afghanistan and Pakistan, the White House has relied too much on the military and the C.I.A. (mainly in the form of drones) to guide policy: “These agencies’ solutions were not, and could never be, a substitute for the type of patient, long-range, credible diplomacy that garners the respect of our allies and their support when we need it.” In Nasr’s view, a White House that feared being called soft and wanted to keep intractable foreign entanglements out of the news turned to Clinton only after things had fallen apart, as in Pakistan at the end of 2011, when she moved to repair a relationship that had degenerated into outright antagonism.

Obama and Clinton wanted to “pivot” away from the Middle East, toward the Pacific, but a bloody hand keeps reaching out to pull America back.
George_Packer  George_Marshall  U.S.foreign_policy  legacies  diplomacy  Middle_East  Mideast_Peace  Obama  Hillary_Clinton  geopolitics  Pakistan  complexity  messiness  restraint  flexibility  opportunism  U.S._State_Department  grand_strategy  Vali_Nasr  CIA  drones  Marshall_Plan  foxes  hedgehogs  long-range  books 
february 2013 by jerryking
The Messy Business of Management
By Ian I. Mitroff, Can M. Alpaslan and Richard O. Mason

September 18, 2012| |

“Managers don’t solve simple, isolated problems; they manage messes.” Ackoff was also instrumental in defining the nature of such messes. According to him, a mess is a system of constantly changing, highly interconnected problems, none of which is independent of the other problems that constitute the entire mess. As a result, no problem that is part of a mess can be defined and solved independently of the other problems. Accordingly, the ability to manage messes requires the ability to think and to manage systemically; this in turn requires that one understand systems thinking. addressing complex, messy problems also requires constructive conflict and structured debate with others to help test one’s assumptions — and help ensure that one is not solving the wrong problem. Many business schools excel at teaching young managers well-structured models, theories and frameworks. But we believe that business schools should spend more time helping their students surface, debate and test the assumptions underlying each model, theory or framework they are learning about. In this way, by developing students’ critical thinking skills, universities would prepare young business leaders to succeed in a messy, uncertain world.
critical_thinking  crisis  business_schools  constant_change  uncertainty  management  systems_thinking  complexity  networks  interconnections  problem_solving  messiness  assumptions 
january 2013 by jerryking
Class notes from a course on the age of complexity
Dec. 24, 2012 | The Financial Times p8.|by John Lloyd.

Now some have developed an anxiety about muddling through, and the lack of strategic thinking among leaders in public life.

General Sir David Richards, head of the British armed forces, recently stressed the need for long-range thinking about the world's unpredictability. Conflict in the Middle East, the rise of China, the slowing of Europe, fierce competition for raw materials, demographic shifts, terrorism and international crime are only some of the vast challenges he sees.

The UK public administration select committee, which scrutinises how the government is run, produced a report in April called Strategic Thinking on Government , in which it declared "we have little confidence that government policies are informed by a clear, coherent, strategic approach".
United_Kingdom  strategic_thinking  public_sector  long-range  unpredictability  globalization  Colleges_&_Universities  executive_education  complexity  LSE  long-term 
december 2012 by jerryking
The Speechmaker: How Bill Gates Got Ready for Harvard - WSJ.com
June 8, 2007 (Link to Eric Reguly criticism of how Gates is addressing the problems of agriculture)

The Speechmaker: How Bill Gates Got Ready for Harvard
Warren Buffett Offered Tips on Delivery and Tone; A Dropout Gets a Degree By ROBERT A. GUTH

In the analytical style for which he became famous in high-tech circles, Mr. Gates recommended a four-point plan for attacking a complex problem: determine a goal, find the "highest-leverage approach," discover the ideal technology for that approach, "and in the meantime, make the smartest application of the technology that you already have."
public_speaking  speeches  preparation  billgates  Harvard  commencement  complexity  Microsoft  problem_solving  Communicating_&_Connecting  dropouts  leverage  complex_problems  return_on_effort 
may 2012 by jerryking
Tackling Canada's thorniest issue
Dec 21, 2001 |The Globe and Mail. pg. A.19 | Jeffrey SimpsonJohn Stackhouse's magnificent series on Canada's aboriginals deepened his reputation as one of the two or three best journalists in the country.

Here was a series in The Globe and Mail crafted by an inquiring mind, written with a rare clarity of expression, and based on wisdom's first principle -- an appreciation of complexity.

Mr. Stackhouse was an eyewitness rather than an "I" witness. He invited readers to understand what he saw and heard rather than what he ate for lunch. The best journalists are shoe-leather sociologists who ask, listen and observe.

Mr. Stackhouse displayed a rare gift as a foreign correspondent for asking the right questions, understanding the answers and conveying the complexities of what he found. What worked for him in the developing world was perfectly suited to tackling Canada's thorniest issue: relations between aboriginals and the rest of us.

His series seemed effortlessly written, the way people at the top of their game make whatever they do appear easy.
5_W’s  aboriginals  complexity  curiosity  first_principle  Jeffrey_Simpson  John_Stackhouse  journalists  journalism  wisdom  developing_countries  asking_the_right_questions 
october 2011 by jerryking
Drugs That Are as Smart as Our Diseases | Mind & Matter - WSJ.com
SEPT.17, 2011 | WSJ | By MATT RIDLEY. The very opposite of
Moore's Law is happening at the downstream end of the R&D pipeline.
The number of new molecules approved per billion dollars of
inflation-adjusted R&D has declined inexorably at 9% a year and is
now 1/100th of what it was in 1950....

Drugs must be designed to nudge whole networks rather than single
targets. e.g., to develop a treatment for the hospital infection
Clostridium difficile, e-Therapeutics drew a sort of spider's web of how
all the proteins on the outside of the bacterium interacted. From that
web, they identified crucial nodes in the network and, by trial and
error, selected a combination of molecules that could attack those
nodes.

A similar approach is showing promise for cancer and even neurological
disease. It means hitting multiple targets simultaneously, the targets
chosen by network analysis. Where diseases are complex, the cures will
be complex, too.
drugs  pharmaceutical_industry  R&D  decline  research  cancers  networks  complexity  disease  biochemistry  Moore's_Law  molecules  trial_&_error  multiple_targets  Clostridium_difficile 
september 2011 by jerryking
The Art of Economic Complexity
May 11, 2011

A new way to visualize a country’s development.
By TIM HARFORD
Graphic by CÉSAR A. HIDALGO and ALEX SIMOES.

These diagrams are the early fruits of a new approach to the most important unsolved problem of the last century: how to make a rich country out of a poor one. Development economists have many theories about how the trick is done but few proven answers. A compelling solution would be useful closer to home, too: understanding the process of economic development would help us work out whether it matters that service jobs are replacing manufacturing ones or whether there is anything the government can and should do to stimulate new industries like biotechnology or green energy.......Economies produce "stuff," and if you want more stuff to come out of the process, put more stuff in (like human capital, say). Yet economies do not produce stuff so much as billions of distinct types of goods — perhaps 10 billion.....ranging from size 34 dark stonewash bootcut jeans to beauty therapies involving avocado. The difference between China's economy and that of the United States is not simply that China's is smaller; it has a different structure entirely......we can now visualize the differences between national economies in new ways....... think of economies as collections of "capabilities" that can be combined in different ways like an Erector set to produce different products. ...Economies that export many types of products are more likely to be sophisticated; products exported only by sophisticated economies are more likely to be complex. ............Products are closely connected on the underlying network if they tend to be exported by the same economies. .............At the fringes of the product space are development dead ends. Better-connected nodes represent industries that offer promising prospects for growth..........economies change in structure over time, moving from simpler goods to scarcer, more valuable ones. Countries rarely make radical structural changes. Instead, they generate capabilities gradually, and new industries usually develop from existing ones. Unfortunately, some industries — oil extraction, say, or fishing — do not naturally lead to anything new without a huge leap.
adjacencies  capabilities  complexity  data  digital_economy  economics  infographics  kaleidoscopic  Tim_Harford  visualization 
may 2011 by jerryking
Crovitz: Tsunamis of Information - WSJ.com
MAR. 21, 2011 |WSJ| L. GORDON CROVITZ. Hayek spoke of the
'pretense of knowledge,' and why disasters are worse than expected. In
this information-saturated era, we expect no surprises. Yet we are
constantly surprised. We have huge amounts of data, so we assume that
risks can be calculated & avoided. But we also have exceedingly
complex systems. Just as weather is too hard to predict more than a few
days out because of how many variables interact, it's hard to predict
other complex systems. Consider credit instruments during the financial
crisis, the global warming debate, or global epidemics. Thus an
earthquake & tsunami, even in technologically advanced Japan, can
kill tens of thousands, wipe out entire villages, & re-open
questions about nuclear power....some physical systems turn out to be so
complex that they resemble unpredictable social sciences more than the
certainties of simpler physical science....We need to learn how to live
with both new technologies & new uncertainties.
disasters  complexity  Friedrich_Hayek  L._Gordon_Crovtiz  natural_calamities  information_overload  data  uncertainty  surprises  overconfidence  pretense_of_knowledge  earthquakes  tsunamis  social_sciences  certainty  psychology  unpredictability  compounded  risk-assessment  physical_systems  CDOs 
march 2011 by jerryking
Why Less Brilliant Presidents Do Better - The Informed Reader - WSJ
Jun 18, 2007 | WSJ | Robin Moroney. Extreme intelligence might
undermine a person’s managerial capacity, he speculates. “What is
required at the top levels of govt. is not brilliance, but managerial
skill,” says Posner. That includes knowing “when to defer to the
superior knowledge of a more experienced but less mentally agile
subordinate.” Especially intelligent people also have difficulty
trusting the intuitions of less-articulate people who have more
experience than they do. That might be why many smart senior officials
in govt. have tried to reason their way through problems on their own,
assuming their civil servants’ inadequate explanations rendered their
judgments invalid. Furthermore, many of the situations that presidents
face are defined by uncertainty, rather than complexity. In cases e.g.
Vietnam, where presidents and their inner circle were dealing with an
ambiguous situation, “having great information-processing skills is not
worth a lot if you have no reliable info..”
ambiguities  civil_servants  complexity  execution  experience  Gary_Becker  gut_feelings  intuition  IQ  mental_dexterity  Richard_A._Posner  smart_people  uncertainty  White_House 
october 2010 by jerryking
Barbarians will always storm the gates of complexity
Oct 6, 2010 | Financial Times pg. 13 | John Kay. Why do
societies and seemingly indestructible empires collapse? Because as the
empires grow, the costs of central organization rise (complexity?) and
the benefits of further expansion became ever more marginal. The
phenomenon of multiplying complexity is not confined to ancient
civilisations. The nature of bureaucracy is to generate work for other
bureaucrats to do. C. Northcote Parkinson describes how the # of people
in the British Admiralty increased faster than the number of ships, and
continued to increase even after the # of ships declined. See Edward
Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, The Collapse of
Complex Societies by Joseph Tainter, and Jared Diamond's book Collapse.
complexity  collapse-anxiety  ProQuest  Jared_Diamond  Romans  books  bureaucracies  scaling  societal_collapse  sublinearity  Edmund_Gibbon 
october 2010 by jerryking
Complex Management Made Simple - WSJ.com
OCTOBER 26, 2009 | Wall Street Journal | By JULIAN
BIRKINSHAW And SUZANNE HEYWOOD .Too Big to Manage? Some companies are
simply too complex to be run effectively. Here's how executives can get
that complexity under control.
complexity  size 
august 2010 by jerryking
globeadvisor.com: Experts of wrong: Beware biases of people-in-the-know
August 11, 2010 | The Globe and Mail | HARVEY SCHACHTER
who reviews Wrong, By David H. Freedman,
Little Brown, 295 pages, $31.99. Wrong: is an all-out assault on
experts, and, perhaps more significantly, our mindsets, which give the
experts more licence than they deserve...." Freedman says, "expert
wisdom usually turns out to be at best highly contested and ephemeral
and at worst flat-out wrong."... " A key problem is what he calls the
certainty principle. Given an expert who equivocates on some approach
and an expert who is dramatically certain, we opt for the expert with
conviction. "... " We want advice that's simple, clear-cut, doubt-free,
universal in application, upbeat, actionable, and palatable, in the
sense of conforming to our predispositions rather than challenging those
biases. " " "We happen to be complex creatures living in a complex
world, so why would we expect answers to any questions to be simple?" "
book_reviews  David_Freedman  complexity  conformity  expertise  Harvey_Schachter  biases  pretense_of_knowledge  overconfidence  certainty  confirmation_bias  books  questions  predispositions 
august 2010 by jerryking
Op-Ed Columnist - Drilling for Certainty - NYTimes.com
May 27, 2010 | NYT | By DAVID BROOKS. "...the real issue has
to do with risk assessment. It has to do with the bloody crossroads where complex technical systems meet human psychology...we’ve come to depend on an ever-expanding array of intricate hi-tech systems. These h/w & s/w sys. are the guts of financial markets, energy exploration, space exploration, air travel, defense programs and modern production plants. These sys. which allow us to live as well as we do, are too complex for any single person to understand. (1) people can't
imagine how small failings can compound into catastrophic disasters. (2) people acclimate to risk (3) overconfidence in backup sys. and safety devices. (4) people match complicated technical sys. with complicated governing structures. (5) people tend to spread good news and hide bad news.(6) people in the same field suffer groupthink...Overlooks incentives that distort choices.
David_Brooks  oil_spills  complexity  risk-assessment  cognitive_skills  biases  Malcolm_Gladwell  certainty  overconfidence  psychology  incentives  catastrophes  groupthink  compounded  financial_markets  energy_exploration  space_exploration  air_travel  multiplicative  risk-perception  optimism_bias  risk-acclimatization  Richard_Feynman  cumulative  bad_news 
may 2010 by jerryking
How America's Top Military Officer Uses Business to Boost National Security
May 1, 2010 | Fast Company | Jeff Chu. "He wanted to know what
kind of environment can be created in which business can thrive and
what role govts. have to play," "What is it that makes businesses
successful?" What does this have to do with his job or the military's?
"Our financial health is directly related to our national security,"
"The biggest driver globally is the economy ... I need to understand the
global trends that work those engines. Where are these guys putting
their $? If they're betting on certain outcomes -- good or bad -- why?"
Mullen's principles on the use of US military force: don't go it alone;
don't be overweight in foreign policy; closer coordination between
military and civilian agencies. "If his advice were only how to fight
hi-tech wars, and if his solution were just to apply more force, he
would be less relevant," Brent Scowcroft, "He recognizes that the new
face of war is a very complex...part combat, part nation building, and
part hearts and minds."
leadership  U.S._military  JCS  Michael_Mullen  nation_building  ethnography  geopolitics  21st._century  indispensable  storytelling  messaging  generalship  security_&_intelligence  Brent_Scowcroft  strategic_thinking  questions  war  warfare  complexity  curiosity  APNSA 
april 2010 by jerryking
Holman Jenkins: Living With the Electronic Car - WSJ.com
MARCH 16, 2010 | Wall Street Journal | By HOLMAN W. JENKINS, JR
automotive_industry  complexity 
march 2010 by jerryking
Talking to...Joshua C. Ramo
POSTED ON: APRIL 14, 2009 | TORO MAGAZINE | POSTED BY:
SALVATORE DIFALCO. "...Get over this idea that we can deter or regulate
threats out of existence. Most of the big threats we can’t deter. Our
efforts to deter terrorism haven’t been all that effective. Some of
those guys are all too happy to die. The challenge is for us to build a
society that accepts these shocks as part of the system."
Joshua_Cooper_Ramo  uncertainty  instability  threats  interviews  unpredictability  deterrence  complexity  Kissinger_Associates  resilience 
september 2009 by jerryking
reportonbusiness.com: The power of managing complexity
May 11, 2009 | Globe & Mail | by PIERRE M. LAVALLÉE.

Reducing process complexity should be a company's last step. It involves looking for process improvements that add the most value and by eliminating unnecessary data collection. One of the world's largest natural resources companies found that it had no fewer than 483 process improvement projects in the works – and that only 25 would deliver a significant impact. In combination with product and organizational simplifications, the company boosted operating income by more than 20 per cent. Meantime, the same company found it could reduce its volume of reports by 40 per cent in one major business unit.
complexity  economic_downturn  Bain  data  simplicity  information_overload  process_improvements  data_collection 
may 2009 by jerryking
visualcomplexity.com | A visual exploration on mapping complex networks
Manuel Lima, the founder of the information graphics website
Visual Complexity, believes "One of the big challenges we face now is
dealing with all the data around us, and finding ways to make it
useful."
visualization  graphics  mapping  networks  data  inspiration  design  information  complexity 
april 2009 by jerryking

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