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Susan Rice Recounts Making Policy at the Highest Levels
Oct. 10, 2019 | The New York Times | By Abby D. Phillip.

TOUGH LOVE
My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For
By Susan Rice
Illustrated. 531 pp. Simon & Schuster. $30.

Tough Love is Susan Rice's memoir. Susan Rice doesn't allow herself to be defined by the events of September 2012 in Benghazi, Libya, after which she was demonized by the right-wingers in the U.S. ....Rice’s personal story is rooted partly in slavery in America and partly in economic migration to the United States.....Rice benefitted from privilege that gave her access to well-heeled private schooling, elite advanced degrees (i.e. Stanford University, and later was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford) and membership in the even more elite Washington society. Rice’s unflagging work ethic and drive stems from her family's belief that, "The only constraints we faced were our own ambition, effort and skill.” ......Early in her career at the National Security Council, Rice navigated some of the most difficult foreign policy challenges the country has faced in recent history, and in a pattern that continued into the Obama years her fate seemed constantly intertwined with Africa. The 1994 genocide in Rwanda provided an object lesson in the moral failures of inaction. Later, she dealt with another major crisis that would reverberate later in her career. The 1998 Nairobi embassy and Dar es Salaam embassy bombings.
Rice is clinical in her retelling of the foreign policy decisions of the Clinton and Obama administrations. And there is no attempt to neatly sew together an overarching narrative about her approach to foreign policy challenges based on her years of experience in government. In fact, that may be the lesson of her tale of “tough love.” Public policy, Rice argues, is pragmatic, and sometimes a little dark: “We did fail, we will fail. Our aim must be to minimize the frequency and the price of failure.”.....Rice's “assertiveness and relentlessness” has cost her reputation within the State Department as a difficult boss. Rice has considered--and ruled out--pursuit of elected office, preferring the comfort of policy-focused, behind-the-scenes roles.
African-Americans  APNSA  assertiveness  Benghazi  books  book_reviews  cost_of_inaction  failure  memoirs  NSC  Obama  policymaking  public_policy  relentlessness  Rhodes  Stanford  Susan_Rice  tough_love  U.S.foreign_policy  U.S._State_Department  women  work_ethic 
october 2019 by jerryking
Stop fighting over scarce educational opportunities
March 26, 2019 | Financial Times | by Sarah O’Connor
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, US Democratic congresswoman, believes there is a shortage of routes available to children who want a better future.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez put her finger on a phenomenon that is showing up in many different guises as economic growth has slowed in the developed world. When the pie stops growing, the fights become fiercer and dirtier over how to divide it. One of the areas where this is playing out most emotively is education — an issue critical to the life chances of our children.

As developed countries grew steadily richer over much of the 20th century and educational opportunities expanded, absolute social mobility — the likelihood that children would do better than their parents — was commonplace.

There was never a perfect meritocracy, of course. Elites have always used their wealth and connections to put a “glass floor” under their children’s feet. But that seemed to matter less when it was easy enough for others to join them.

Now, in a world of stalling growth and yawning gaps between the top and the bottom, the chances of making it into the elite feel slimmer, even as the economic rewards for doing so grow fatter. At the same time, the economic penalties for not securing a decent education have become harsher....The underlying problem, as Ms Ocasio-Cortez points out, is the scarcity of routes available to young people who want a better future.

There is no single solution, but the list of fixes would include better state schools, more affordable higher education that is less variable in quality, a broader range of alternatives to university that still lead to decent jobs, and a revival of broad-based economic growth that lifts all boats, not just the yachts.

That may sound like an expensive laundry list, but inaction would cost more in the end.
Alexandria_Ocasio-Cortez  children  college-educated  cost_of_inaction  education  elitism  income_inequality  scarcity  Varsity_Blues 
march 2019 by jerryking
The Power of ‘Why?’ and ‘What If?’ - The New York Times
JULY 2, 2016 | New York Times | By WARREN BERGER.

business leaders want the people working around them to be more curious, more cognizant of what they don’t know, and more inquisitive — about everything, including “Why am I doing my job the way I do it?” and “How might our company find new opportunities?”....Companies in many industries today must contend with rapid change and rising uncertainty. In such conditions, even a well-established company cannot rest on its expertise; there is pressure to keep learning what’s new and anticipating what’s next. It’s hard to do any of that without asking questions.

Steve Quatrano, a member of the Right Question Institute, a nonprofit research group, explains that the act of formulating questions enables us “to organize our thinking around what we don’t know.” This makes questioning a good skill to hone in dynamic times.....So how can companies encourage people to ask more questions? There are simple ways to train people to become more comfortable and proficient at it. For example, question formulation exercises can be used as a substitute for conventional brainstorming sessions. The idea is to put a problem or challenge in front of a group of people and instead of asking for ideas, instruct participants to generate as many relevant questions as they can.......Getting employees to ask more questions is the easy part; getting management to respond well to those questions can be harder.......think of “what if” and “how might we” questions about the company’s goals and plans........Leaders can also encourage companywide questioning by being more curious and inquisitive themselves.
5_W’s  asking_the_right_questions  questions  curiosity  humility  pretense_of_knowledge  unknowns  leadership  innovation  idea_generation  ideas  information_gaps  cost_of_inaction  expertise  anticipating  brainstorming  dynamic  change  uncertainty  rapid_change  inquisitiveness  Dr.Alexander's_Question  incisiveness  leaders  companywide 
july 2016 by jerryking
Janice Gross Stein on smugness: ‘Comfort is our biggest enemy’ - The Globe and Mail
MONICA POHLMANN
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Dec. 05 2014

Canadians aren’t change leaders. We’re deeply, deeply risk averse. If you give us a choice, we prefer the status quo, because we think it’s less risky. What we don’t understand is the cost of inaction. Most of our public-sector institutions are buried in process....The corporate sector is the least risk averse. It has a better-developed sense of risk and understands that the status quo is not sustainable...We need more entrepreneurial spirit in this country, most of all in the public and not-for-profit sectors.

If things turn out badly over the next 20 years, what would have happened?



We would have failed to keep our young people. They will go where the work is interesting and challenging, and where they can contribute. That will be a huge loss. If we don’t reorient our institutions to make them hospitable to members of this generation, they will just walk right around them and do other things. Our institutions will atrophy, because they won’t have people to shake things up and say, “No, we’re not going to do it this way any more.”

We will also fail if we do not recover from our terminal illness of smugness and self-satisfaction. Otherwise, we are not going to push ourselves hard enough and will ultimately slide into mind-numbing mediocrity.
Janice_Gross_Stein  complacency  status_quo  public_sector  institutions  cost_of_inaction  mediocrity  self-satisfaction  risk-aversion 
december 2014 by jerryking
Five traits of smart risk takers
March 13, 2013 | G&M | Harvey Schachter.

Review of Taking Smart Risks by Doug Sundheim. Sundheim lists five common dangers of playing it safe for too long:

• You don’t win.
• You don’t grow.
• You don’t create.
• You lose confidence as you lose momentum and start to freeze up.
• You don’t feel alive, because you aren't challenging yourself.
Harvey_Schachter  risks  risk-taking  books  book_reviews  soul-enriching  personality_types/traits  growth  cost_of_inaction  character_traits  complacency  risk-aversion  risk-avoidance  playing_it_safe 
march 2013 by jerryking
When Uncertainty Is A Constant, You Can Still Plan for Surprises
April 7, 1998 | WSJ | By HAL LANCASTER.

one of the few certainties in today's tumultuous business world: About all anyone can expect is the unexpected.

Hal Lancaster answers readers' questions on career issues in Career Corner. Send your questions or comments by e-mail to hlancast@wsj.com .

Between mergers and restructurings, new technology and intensified global competition, "change is accelerating," says Dallas management consultant Price Pritchett, who specializes in change management. "The more change and the faster it comes at us, the easier it is for us to get blindsided."

But isn't the ability to cope with the unexpected genetically coded? "Some people have a high need for structure and don't like to wing it." Still, anyone can get better at dealing with surprises.

Here are some other effective strategies:

* Figure out what you can control.

* Plan tight and play loose. "deep planning," or considering all conceivable scenarios and what-ifs. But won't the unexpected foil the best-laid plans? "The better job we do planning, the better we'll do improvising, because we'll understand the situation better,"

* Develop solutions. In a soon-to-be-released booklet on innovation that he is publishing for clients, Dr. Pritchett draws lessons from the 1997 Mars Pathfinder mission. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory talked about "crafting solutions that were tolerant to the uncertainties" of such a project,

* Separate fact from assumptions.

To make good decisions, you need good information. In turbulent times, Mr. Postons observes, "people get suspicious, they get paranoid and that's when they get frozen."

* Do something.In an environment of high-velocity change, Dr. Pritchett says, remember the perils of passivity. "You have to keep moving forward, knowing that in this blurry, fast-moving world, you're going to have to drive on fog lights much of the time."

Concentrating on a plan of action and lining up others to help can turn despair into accomplishment, Dr. Stoltz says. The strategy, he adds, is "whiner-proof and solution-oriented."
Hal_Lancaster  Managing_Your_Career  uncertainty  adversity  surprises  critical_thinking  managing_change  unexpected  cost_of_inaction  assumptions  change  resilience  tumultuous  constant_change  solutions  solution-finders  accelerated_lifecycles  action_plans  span_of_control  momentum  blindsided  blind_spots  beyond_one's_control  JPL  next_play 
december 2012 by jerryking
Jonah's Dilemma - WSJ.com
September 21, 2007 | WSJ | By MICHAEL B. OREN and MARK GERSON.

This is the tragedy of leadership. Policy makers must decide between costly actions and inaction, the price of which, though potentially higher, will ultimately remain unknown -- a truly Jonah-like dilemma.
cost_of_inaction  leadership  policymakers  unknowns 
july 2012 by jerryking
Giving Great Advice
Janaury 2008 | HBR | Interview of Bruce Wasserstein by Tom Stewart and Gardiner More.

HBR’s editor, Thomas A. Stewart, and senior editor Gardiner Morse
spent many hours at Lazard and interviewed Wasserstein, setting out to understand how he creates value as a manager, as a deal maker, and as a counselor to CEOs. How does he attract and
manage talent, build and sustain knowledge businesses, size up companies and industries, and craft advice?

Wasserstein describes his approach as discovering whether a deal or strategy “makes sense.” Such sensemaking seems to underlie every move he makes, and it has paid off handsomely. Following is an edited presentation of HBR’s conversations with Wasserstein...first to execute deals really well and then to market that track record.

How do you develop individual talent? The idea is to create a hothouse where young talent is nourished by our culture and people are encouraged to think creatively, think deeply,
think about the long-term client relationship—but above all, think. I want them to reflect on what they are doing and why, and then wonder,“Can we do better?”

Talk about the advice business. What are CEOs looking for as you’re helping them understand the landscape? What do they
need that you’ve got? The point of advice is to create value. The
first thing in that effort is not to assume the banker knows more than the client. The second thing is to remind the CEO that corporations have to change in order to prosper and that inaction isn’t prudent—it’s radical. What we can do is help the CEO think through an array of options, partly by asking
the necessary questions, but also by inserting some very practical observations about the effects of specific decisions.
Good advice is at least as qualitative as it is quantitative....On the other hand, there’s the more qualitative part of the advice. This strikes me as being an underdeveloped side of most investment-banking relationships. Knowing the characteristics of the industry and possible consequences of a deal comes from having seen what’s happened in many companies and industries over time. So, for example, you might say, “Look, you need a very different mentality to manage this type of business than your other businesses. You have a process-oriented mentality, but you need a more market-oriented approach. Are you confident that you’re going to be able to keep the number two guy in the company you’re acquiring? Because the number-one guy will probably leave.”

Deals that make sense. Can you elaborate on that? Law school taught me to focus on dissecting premises. Anyone who’s a good logician can build an argument on just about any premises.
The argument may be taut, but the premises may be faulty. When we do deals, I always ask, “Are the premises sound? Is the risk exposure worth it for this particular company, and have
I protected my client’s back?” We proceed by identifying and evaluating qualitatively and quantitatively the key elements of risk in the transaction—overall economy risk, strategic
risk, operating business risk, financing risk, people risk. Similarly, you need to fully understand the upsides. What are the opportunities in cost cuts, synergies, internal development,
additional investments, or revenue enhancement? It’s useful to apply all the paraphernalia of mathematical science in an analysis, but focusing on the sense of things is a much better use of time. Part of determining the sense of a deal involves understanding the macroclimate, the broader context, which I think gets too little attention.

...We think of each deal in terms of a flow chart with a series of black boxes. Each box represents a facet of the deal—for example, valuation, financing structure, approach to the other party, negotiating tactics and deal process, taxes, legal structure, contracts, market reaction, and regulatory hurdles.
advice  argumentation  Bruce_Wasserstein  contracts  cost_of_inaction  dealmakers  deal-making  downside_risks  financial_advisors  financial_risk  howto  investment_banking  J.D.-M.B.A.  Lazard  logic_&_reasoning  M&A  market_risk  mergers_&_acquisitions  operating_risk  problem_solving  product_risk  risk-assessment  synergies  team_risk  upside 
july 2012 by jerryking
Advice straight from the dragon's mouth - FT.com
May 25, 2005 | FT | By Doug Richard. ask Kemp these questions.

*Ask what problem is being solved with your product or service

*Talk to potential customers to understand the problem

*Know the cost to customers of the problem you are trying to solve so that you get your pricing right

*Define your customers as a group linked by a common problem

*Keep the business simple and focused on one mission and one target

*Protect your ideas where possible
angels  entrepreneur  start_ups  due_diligence  problem_definition  questions  simplicity  cost_of_inaction  problems  problem_awareness  awareness  consumer_awareness 
may 2012 by jerryking
The Sunshine Warrior - NYTimes.com
By BILL KELLER September 22, 2002

His inclination to act derives, too, from his analytical style, a residue, perhaps, of the mathematician he started out to be. In almost any discussion, he tends to be the one focusing on the most often overlooked variable in decision making, the cost of not acting. ....the tensions between State and Defense are rooted in starkly different views of how America should deal with the world. The State Department tends to see the world as a set of problems to be handled, using the tools of professional diplomacy and striving for international consensus. This Defense Department tends to define leadership as more (in the Pentagon's favorite buzzword of the moment) ''forward leaning,'' including a willingness to act unilaterally if need be and to employ muscle. Rumsfeld and Cheney, who have been friends since the Nixon administration, are visceral advocates of this more assertive view, but Wolfowitz is its theorist -- its Kissinger, as one admirer put it. ...Dennis Ross went to work for Wolfowitz shortly after writing a paper trashing the work of Team B. ''What I always found in him that separated him from everybody else on that side of the political spectrum is not that he didn't have predispositions, but that he was much more open, much more intellectually open, to different kinds of interpretations,'' Ross says....''In the end, it has to come down to a careful weighing of things we can't know with precision, the costs of action versus the costs of inaction, the costs of action now versus the costs of action later.''
U.S._military  leadership  leadership_development  U.S._Army  military_academies  red_teams  Dennis_Ross  Paul_Wolfowitz  cost_of_inaction  Pentagon  U.S._State_Department  diplomacy  consensus  interpretation 
may 2012 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
How to feed 9 billion people: the future of food and farming
By Jonathan M. Gitlin | Published about a year ago.

Professor Beddington began by giving a brief overview of the report, also entitled The Future of Food and Farming, stating that the case for urgent action in the global food system is now compelling, and denying the "foul slander that I've been buying wheat futures to drive the price up." Although he was able to inject some levity, it is a deeply serious and somewhat worrying issue.....we need to stop romanticizing small farmers. The solutions to future food production can't and shouldn't be an either-or between them and large agrifarms. She claimed that big food companies' objectives do align with sustainability needs, but they're villainized unreasonably. Nestlé benefits from adopting small farm techniques that decrease contamination, and farmers benefit from stable access to customers.
agribusiness  agriculture  Big_Food  climate_change  cost_of_inaction  demonization  farming  food  Nestlé  smallholders  sustainability  villains  volatility 
april 2012 by jerryking
Rumsfeld: Know the Unknowns - WSJ.com
APRIL 4, 2011| WSJ | By L. GORDON CROVITZ. Before 9/11,
Rumsfeld distributed to colleagues a comment about Pearl Harbor by
economist Thomas Schelling: "There is a tendency in our planning to
confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable." Rumsfeld focuses on
unknown unknowns in order to encourage more "intellectual humility" ."It
is difficult to accept—to know—that there may be important unknowns."
"In the run-up to the war in Iraq, we heard a great deal about what our
intel community knew or thought they knew," he writes, "but not enough
about what they knew they didn't know." Policy makers can't afford to
be paralyzed by a lack of info., inaction by the world's superpower has
its own risks. Instead, Rumsfeld says the known known of info. gaps
should force a more robust give-and-take between policy makers &
intelligence analysts, allowing analysts to understand what policymakers
need to know & policymakers to understand what info. they can and
cannot get from intelligence.
Donald_Rumsfeld  superpowers  L._Gordon_Crovtiz  memoirs  decision_making  security_&_intelligence  information_gaps  humility  uncertainty  cost_of_inaction  unknowns  Thomas_Schelling  improbables  quotes  unfamiliarity  SecDef  policymakers  policymaking  intelligence_analysts 
april 2011 by jerryking
The dangers of getting comfortable - The Globe and Mail
Oct. 08, 2010 | Mark Evans. Another major challenge of having a
lot of business is making sure you don’t get fat, happy and complacent.
It is surprisingly easy to get comfortable when business is good
because there is less urgency and stress to find new customers. While
having steady customers makes life easier, it does not mean you should
rest on your laurels or take your foot off the gas.

This is a lesson I painfully learned when starting my business. After
hustling for a couple of months to get work in the door, I happily
settled into doing the job. The only problem was I stopped hustling so
that when the work was completed, the pipeline was empty. Needless to
say, there was a hot flash of panic before realizing that selling is not
something that can stop and start.
complacency  cost_of_inaction  sales  sales_cycle  Mark_Evans 
october 2010 by jerryking
How to Kill Innovation: Keep Asking Questions - Scott Anthony - Harvard Business Review
February 25, 2010 | HBR | by Scott Anthony . Resource-rich
companies have the "luxury" of researching and researching problems.
That can be a huge benefit in known markets where precision matters. But
it can be a huge limitation in unknown markets where precision is
impossible and attempts to create it through analysis are quixotic.
Entrepreneurs don't have the luxury of asking "What about..." questions,
and in disruptive circumstances that works in their favor.
questions  Scott_Anthony  innovation  HBR  Innosight  due_diligence  information_gaps  market_sizing  uncertainty  unknowns  cost_of_inaction 
march 2010 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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