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jerryking : information_gaps   26

Heed the human factor before judging leaders' achievements | Evernote Web
14 January/15 January 2017 | Financial Times | Gillian Tett.

Pointing out mistakes is a legitimate part of healthy journalism and civic debate. But as blaming and fingerpointing start to mount, it's worth remembering that people tend to freeze in a crisis, especially when there is a shortage of information. Hindsight is a wonderful thing for an econometric model or history book, but it downplays the human factor. There is a danger in criticizing others' decisions until you've walked in their shoes.
Gillian_Tett  human_factor  empathy  mistakes  human_errors  criticism  blaming_fingerpointing  hindsight  crisis  information_gaps  immobilize  paralyze  psychology  stress_response 
january 2017 by jerryking
From Michael Lewis, a Portrait of the Men Who Shaped ‘Moneyball’ - The New York Times
By ALEXANDRA ALTERDEC. 3, 2016
Lewis decided to explore how it started.

The inquiry led him to the work of two Israeli psychologists, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, whose discoveries challenged long-held beliefs about human nature and the way the mind works.

Mr. Lewis chronicles their unusual partnership in his new book, “The Undoing Project,” a story about two unconventional thinkers who saw the world differently from everyone around them. Their peculiar area of research — how humans make decisions, often irrationally — has had profound implications for an array of fields, like professional sports, the military, medicine, politics, finance and public health.....Tversky and Kahneman's research demonstrating how people behave in fundamentally irrational ways when making decisions, relying on their gut rather than available data, gave rise to the field of behavioral economics. That discipline attracted Paul DePodesta, a Harvard student, who later went into sports management and helped upend professional baseball when he went to work for Mr. Beane.....Unlike many nonfiction writers, Mr. Lewis declines to take advances, which he calls “corrupting,” even though he could easily earn seven figures. Instead, he splits the profits from the books, as well as the advertising and production costs, with Norton. The setup spurs him to work harder and to make more money if the books are successful, he says.

“You should have the risk and you should enjoy the reward,” he said. “It’s not healthy for an author not to have the risk.”
Amos_Tversky  Michael_Lewis  Moneyball  books  book_reviews  unconventional_thinking  biases  cognitive_skills  unknowns  information_gaps  humility  pretense_of_knowledge  overconfidence  conventional_wisdom  overestimation  metacognition  behavioural_economics  irrationality  decision_making  nonfiction  writers  self-awareness  self-analysis  self-reflective  proclivities  Daniel_Kahneman  psychologists  delusions  self-delusions  skin_in_the_game  gut_feelings  risk-taking  partnerships 
december 2016 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
Drew Houston of Dropbox: Figure Out the Things You Don’t Know - The New York Times
By ADAM BRYANT JUNE 3, 2016

What were some early leadership lessons after starting Dropbox?

The first thing is having a healthy paranoia for trying to find out what you don’t know that you don’t know. The question I would ask myself — even in the beginning, and I still do today — is, six months from now, 12 months from now, five years from now, what will I wish I had been doing today or learning today?

Reading has been essential. I have always wondered why people put so much energy into trying to have coffee with some famous entrepreneur when reading a book is like getting many hours of their most crystallized thoughts.
Dropbox  CEOs  organizational_culture  unknowns  paranoia  reading  lessons_learned  information_gaps  humility  pretense_of_knowledge 
june 2016 by jerryking
Eight steps to making better decisions as a manager - The Globe and Mail
HARVEY SCHACHTER
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, May 08, 2016

Write down the key facts that need to be considered. Too often we jump into decisions and ignore the obvious.

Write down five pre-existing goals or priorities that will be affected by the decision.

Write down realistic alternatives – at least three, but ideally four or more.

Write down what’s missing. Information used to be scarce. Now it’s so abundant it can distract us from checking what’s missing (jk: i.e. the commoditization of information)

Write down the impact your decision will have one year in the future. By thinking a year out, you are separating yourself from the immediate moment, lessening emotions. [Reminiscent of Suzy Welch’s 10-10-10 rule. When you’re about to make a decision, ask yourself how you will feel about it 10 minutes from now? 10 months from now? and 10 years from now? People are overly biased by the immediate pain of some choice, but they can put the short-term pain in long-term perspective by asking these questions].

Involve at least two more people in the decision but no more than six additional team members. This ensures less bias, more perspectives, and since more people contributed to the decision, increased buy-in when implementing it.

Write down what was decided, as well as why and how much the team supports the decision.

Schedule a follow-up in one to two months.
Harvey_Schachter  decision_making  goals  buy-in  options  unknowns  following_up  note_taking  dissension  perspectives  biases  information_gaps  long-term  dispassion  alternatives  think_threes  unsentimental  Suzy_Welch  commoditization_of_information  process-orientation 
may 2016 by jerryking
More foreign buyers snapping up Canadian condos: CMHC - The Globe and Mail
TAMSIN MCMAHON - REAL ESTATE REPORTER
The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Dec. 03, 2015

The federal housing agency said it has struggled to get a full picture of foreign purchaser activity in the housing market and that its numbers are far lower than those in other studies. ....

The only data that CMHC has on foreign buyers are from surveys of property managers and condo boards, who are asked to identify non-resident condo owners. The survey doesn’t measure the number of overall home sales in a given year to foreign investors, nor whether foreign owners are buying units for themselves and family members or purely as speculative investments. CMHC also includes Canadians who now live abroad but who still own property in the country as part of its definition of foreign owner.....“We’re trying to work with other people and make an effort to get these data gaps solved so we can have more information about what some are saying is an important part of the market,” Mr. Dugan said. “You can see from our data that the rate of foreign ownership seems relatively low, certainly not the kind of levels that some other studies might suggests.
real_estate  CMHC  offshore  data  condominiums  information_gaps  housing  dark_data 
december 2015 by jerryking
How Not to Drown in Numbers - NYTimes.com
MAY 2, 2015| NYT |By ALEX PEYSAKHOVICH and SETH STEPHENS-DAVIDOWITZ.

If you’re trying to build a self-driving car or detect whether a picture has a cat in it, big data is amazing. But here’s a secret: If you’re trying to make important decisions about your health, wealth or happiness, big data is not enough.

The problem is this: The things we can measure are never exactly what we care about. Just trying to get a single, easy-to-measure number higher and higher (or lower and lower) doesn’t actually help us make the right choice. For this reason, the key question isn’t “What did I measure?” but “What did I miss?”...So what can big data do to help us make big decisions? One of us, Alex, is a data scientist at Facebook. The other, Seth, is a former data scientist at Google. There is a special sauce necessary to making big data work: surveys and the judgment of humans — two seemingly old-fashioned approaches that we will call small data....For one thing, many teams ended up going overboard on data. It was easy to measure offense and pitching, so some organizations ended up underestimating the importance of defense, which is harder to measure. In fact, in his book “The Signal and the Noise,” Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com estimates that the Oakland A’s were giving up 8 to 10 wins per year in the mid-1990s because of their lousy defense.

And data-driven teams found out the hard way that scouts were actually important...We are optimists about the potential of data to improve human lives. But the world is incredibly complicated. No one data set, no matter how big, is going to tell us exactly what we need. The new mountains of blunt data sets make human creativity, judgment, intuition and expertise more valuable, not less.

==============================================
From Market Research: Safety Not Always in Numbers | Qualtrics ☑
Author: Qualtrics|July 28, 2010

Albert Einstein once said, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” [Warning of the danger of overquantification) Although many market research experts would say that quantitative research is the safest bet when one has limited resources, it can be dangerous to assume that it is always the best option.
human_ingenuity  data  analytics  small_data  massive_data_sets  data_driven  information_overload  dark_data  measurements  creativity  judgment  intuition  Nate_Silver  expertise  datasets  information_gaps  unknowns  underestimation  infoliteracy  overlooked_opportunities  sense-making  easy-to-measure  Albert_Einstein  special_sauce  metrics  overlooked  defensive_tactics  emotional_intelligence  EQ  soft_skills  overquantification  false_confidence 
may 2015 by jerryking
31 Fantastic Pieces Of Advice For Surviving Your First Year On Wall Street
Knowing what you don't know is more useful than being brilliant.

"Confucius said that real knowledge is knowing the extent of one’s ignorance. Aristotle and Socrates said the same thing. ... Thin...
advice  humility  information_gaps  uncertainty  pretense_of_knowledge  Socrates  Wall_Street 
september 2014 by jerryking
More Data Can Mean Less Guessing About the Economy - NYTimes.com
By STEVE LOHR
Published: September 7, 2013

measurement shortfall in the small-business sector, and a series of other information gaps in the economy, may be overcome by what experts say is an emerging data revolution — Big Data, in the current catchphrase. The ever-expanding universe of digital signals of behavior, from browsing and buying on the Web to cellphone location data, is grist for potential breakthroughs in economic measurement. It could produce more accurate forecasting and more informed policy-making — more science and less guesswork.... THE economics profession is gearing up to exploit new sources of digital data. In a recent paper, “The Data Revolution and Economic Analysis,” two Stanford economists, Liran Einav and Jonathan Levin, concluded that “there is little doubt, at least in our minds, that over the next decades ‘big data’ will change the landscape of economic policy and economic research.”

At Intuit, the small-business data portray a sector that was “hurt much more than big business by the recession and its recovery has been far worse,” says Ms. Woodward, the economic consultant. Over the last three and a half years, payroll employment for all companies has increased 6.9 percent, while small-business employment has risen far less, just 1.9 percent. Hiring among the small companies, though still sluggish, has inched ahead in the last three months.
data  Steve_Lohr  massive_data_sets  Intuit  information_sources  small_business  measurements  Freshbooks  economy  Erik_Brynjolfsson  economics  indicators  real-time  forecasting  economic_data  information_gaps  signals  economists  data_driven 
september 2013 by jerryking
Everything I know I learned at Western, plus a little extra
From a chemistry prof whom I will not embarrass by naming him — my career as a chemist was short, lasting about halfway into
second year, and its trajectory was none of his fault — I learned a set of procedures for solving complex problems. Write down what you know. Write down what you’re trying to figure out. Write down the tools you’ve mastered that might get you from here to there. It’s not a technique, really, just an attitude toward the known and unknown, which is why it’s all I’ve retained from my failed years as a science student.
I’ve learned that politicians who approach problems with the same attitude — What do you have? What do you need? How can you
get from here to there? — are likelier to succeed than the ones
who hope to coast on “charisma” or “electability” or, Lord save us,“vision.” At school, the kids who sat at the front of the lecture hall and closed the library every night actually did better. The same is true in life.
Paul_Wells  UWO  problem_solving  unknowns  information_gaps  charisma  attitudes  politicians  visionaries  electability  5_W’s  complex_problems 
january 2013 by jerryking
In Mobile World, Tech Giants Scramble to Get Up to Speed - NYTimes.com
By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER and SOMINI SENGUPTA
Published: October 22, 2012

Intel made its fortune on the chips that power personal computers, and Microsoft on the software that goes inside. Google’s secret sauce is that it finds what you are looking for on the Internet. But the ground is shifting beneath these tech titans because of a major force: the rise of mobile devices.
Enlarge This Image
Isaac Brekken for The New York Times

These and other tech companies are scrambling to reinvent their business models now that the old model — a stationary customer sitting at a stationary desk — no longer applies. These companies once disrupted traditional businesses, from selling books and music to booking hotels. Now they are being upended by the widespread adoption of smartphones and tablets.

“Companies are having to retool their thinking, saying, ‘What is it that our customers are doing through the mobile channel that is quite distinct from what we are delivering them through our traditional Web channel?’...Yet the world’s shift to computing on mobile devices is taking a toll, including disappointing earnings reports last week from Google, Microsoft and Intel, in large measure related to revenue from mobile devices....Making money will now depend on how deftly tech companies can track their users from their desktop computers to the phones in their palms and ultimately to the stores, cinemas and pizzerias where they spend their money....Still, mobile provides huge opportunities for these businesses, industry analysts say. That is largely because people reveal much more about themselves on phones than they do on computers, from where they go and when they sleep to whom they talk to and what they want to buy....one of Google’s biggest challenges is tracking whether people make a purchase after they see a mobile ad. Unlike online, where Google knows if someone buys a camera after searching for it, the company does not know if someone searches for a Thai restaurant nearby and then eats there. That is why it is trying to follow people into the physical world, ...For investors and others trying to solve the riddle of making money on mobile users, Marc Andreessen, the venture capitalist, extolled the virtues of the mobile era this way: “We’re going to know a tremendous amount about people.”
mobile  mobile_phones  location_based_services  cyberphysical  disruption  competitive_landscape  large_companies  Intel  Microsoft  Google  Marc_Andreessen  mobile_first  reinvention  physical_world  information_gaps  special_sauce 
october 2012 by jerryking
Making Sense of Ambiguous Evidence
September 2008 | HBR | A Conversation with Documentary Filmmaker Errol Morris.

The information that top managers receive is rarely unfiltered. Unpopular opinions are censored. Partisan views are veiled as objective arguments. Honest mistakes are made. The manager is then left to sort it all out and come to a wise conclusion.

Few people know how to get an accurate read on a situation like documentarian Errol Morris. He is the award-winning director of such films as The Thin Blue Line and this year’s Standard Operating Procedure, an exploration of the elusive truth behind the infamous photographs taken at Abu Ghraib prison. The Guardian has ranked him among the world’s top 10 directors, crediting him with “a forensic mind” and “a painter’s eye.”

In this article, Morris talks with HBR’s Lisa Burrell about how he sorts through ambiguous evidence and contradictory views to arrive at the real story. “I don’t believe in the postmodern notion that there are different kinds of truth,” he says. “There is one objective reality, period.” Getting to it requires keeping your mind open to all kinds of evidence—not just the parts that fit with your first impressions or developing opinions—and, often, far more investigation than one would think.

If finding the truth is a matter of perseverance, convincing people of it is something of an art, one with which Morris has had much experience not only as a documentarian but also as a highly sought-after director of TV ads for companies like Apple, Citibank, Adidas, and Toyota. He holds up John Kerry’s 2004 bid for the U.S. presidency as a cautionary tale: Kerry struck voters as inauthentic when he emphasized only his military service and failed to account for his subsequent war protest. Morris would have liked to interview him speaking in his own words—natural, unscripted material—so that his humanity, which seemed to get lost in the campaign, could emerge.
anecdotal  HBR  executive_management  CEOs  contradictions  information  information_flows  evidence_based  objective_reality  information_gaps  authenticity  sense-making  ambiguities  uncertainty  persuasion  forensics  postmodern  filmmakers  documentaries  judgment  cautionary_tales 
august 2012 by jerryking
The Limits of Intelligence - WSJ.com
December 10, 2007 | WSJ | By PETER HOEKSTRA and JANE HARMAN.

On one of our several trips together to Iraq, a senior intelligence official told us how she wrote her assessments -- on one page, with three sections: what we know, what we don't know, and what we think it means.

Sound simple? Actually, it's very hard....The information we receive from the intelligence community is but one piece of the puzzle in a rapidly changing world. It is not a substitute for policy, and the challenge for policy makers is to use good intelligence wisely to fashion good policy.

In fact, the new NIE on Iran comes closest to the three-part model our intelligence community strives for: It carefully describes sources and the analysts' assessment of their reliability, what gaps remain in their understanding of Iran's intentions and capabilities, and how confident they are of their conclusions....Nevertheless, Congress must engage in vigorous oversight -- to challenge those who do intelligence work, and to make site visits to see for ourselves.

Intelligence is an investment -- in people and technology. It requires sustained focus, funding and leadership. It also requires agency heads that prioritize their constitutional duty to keep the intelligence committees informed. Good intelligence will not guarantee good policy, but it can spare us some huge policy mistakes.
security_&_intelligence  critical_thinking  Iran  memoranda  policy  sense-making  unknowns  interpretation  interpretative  information_gaps  oversight  rapid_change  think_threes  assessments_&_evaluations  policymakers  policymaking  intelligence_analysts 
june 2012 by jerryking
Agriculture, Issue 3, Evidence - October 27, 2011
Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Forestry
Issue 3 - Evidence - Meeting of October 27, 2011
OTTAWA, Thursday, October 27, 2011

In terms of developing new markets domestically and internationally, the lack of sound market information for the fresh fruit and vegetable sector is a current gap and potential opportunity for the government to support business planning, trade negotiations and the sustainability of the Canadian fresh fruit and vegetable industry within our global marketplace.

I must note that the current Infohort system is underfunded and under resourced. Industry and government are currently working in the dark and at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to market information on a domestic level. Accurate market information is essential to support our needs for market and economic analyses to build business and cultivate opportunities.
data  parliamentary_system  agribusiness  agriculture  farming  fruits  fresh_produce  OPMA  vegetables  challenges  information_gaps 
may 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
Assumption hunters, a new consulting business?
March 5, 2008 | CultureBy | Grant McCracken.

What is the most vexing problem in management today?

Next to setting our objectives, running a tight ship and meeting our numbers, I would argue that it’s watching out for the blind side hit.

By blind side hit, I mean the kind of thing that Google did to Microsoft, that Barak did to Hillary, that hip hop did to Levi-Strauss, that Snapple did to Coca-Cola.

Watching for blind side hits is difficult because it means knowing our assumptions. And this is hard because assumptions are not for knowing, they are for making.
........The trouble with assumptions is that they are by definition invisible from view. (That’s why we call them "unknown unknowns.") We hold ideas about the world without full awareness of what these ideas are or how they make us vulnerable. .......So what to do. How about, for starters, this three step "assumption hunting" process?

1) ferret out the assumptions. Hire someone to go through the operation of daily business and capture every assumption. Philosophers are quite good at this. Anthropologists are very good at it. This is after all the way they study culture, which is, by and large, a set of assumptions that helps us think and act fluidly precisely because we don’t know we are making them.

2) identify the parts of the world that could present challenges. Figure out just what the challenge is and when and how it will "come ashore."

3) Keep watch with a big board. In effect, what we are doing is "sunsetting" our assumptions with a view to discovery when they reach they end of their useful lives.
assumptions  management_consulting  information_gaps  the_big_picture  uncertainty  unknowns  anthropology  blindsided  blind_spots  challenges  anthropologists  philosophers 
december 2010 by jerryking
Yelp's ambitious plan to take over the local ad market
July 23, 2007 | Fortune | By Jeffrey M. O'Brien. The name
"Yelp" comes from a friend of the founders who liked the word. It also a
contraction of "yellow pages," and reveals the company's ambitions: a
land grab on the $100 billion that's spent every year on local
advertising. "There's an information shortage about local businesses,"
says co-founder & CEO Jeremy Stoppelman. "the yellow pages tell you
how much money a business spent to buy a big ad. We're a place for a
conversation between a prospect and the business owner." Local search
strategies: the directory model, which involves a massive sales force
upselling business owners to ever bigger, flashier ads; the Citysearch
tactic of creating proprietary content and selling ads against it;
there's the search-engine route of crawling everyone else's content and
automating the ad sales. Yelp is different: crowd-sourcing. While Zagat
compiles anonymous user reviews, Yelpers fully express their feelings
and make names for themselves.
Yelp  local_advertising  City_Voice  business_models  strategies  search  local  Zagat  information_gaps  crowdsourcing 
july 2010 by jerryking
The Regulation Crisis: A failure of economic and environmental regulation
June 14, 2010 | The New Yorker | by James Surowiecki.
As Carpenter argues in a recent essay, successful regulation, by filling
information gaps and managing risk, fosters confidence in the safety
and honesty of markets, which in turn makes them bigger and more robust.
The pharmaceutical industry, for instance, would be much smaller if
people were seriously worried that they might be poisoned every time
they took a new drug. And though executives chafe at financial
regulation, the protection it provides makes investors far more likely
to hand them money to play with. If we want our regulators to do better,
we have to embrace a simple idea: regulation isn’t an obstacle to
thriving free markets; it’s a vital part of them.
confidence  regulation  James_Surowiecki  free_markets  economics  investors  politics  SEC  oil_spills  BP  information_gaps  pharmaceutical_industry  regulators 
june 2010 by jerryking
The Misguided Attack on Derivatives - WSJ.com
APRIL 26, 2010 | Wall Street Journal | By L. GORDON CROVITZ.
Short-selling warns markets that an asset bubble is about to burst.
Easy money, easy mortgages, and banks too big to fail were key causes of
the credit crisis. It was also Wall Street's greatest information
failure in many years. We need more trading, not less, and more signals
in the market faster that prices need to be adjusted. The last thing we
need is outlawing opportunities for people like Mr. Paulson to bring
vital information to market.
derivatives  L._Gordon_Crovtiz  John_Paulson  information_gaps  signals  information_flows  too_big_to_fail  short_selling  bubbles 
april 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
Pandemics and Poor Information - WSJ.com
MAY 11, 2009 | Wall Street Journal | by L. GORDON CROVITZ.
Whenever there's a threat of epidemic, alongside early deaths comes the casualty of information. Asian governments at least learned from their recent experience of bird flu and SARS the importance of not covering up outbreaks. The still open question is how to assess warnings that health professionals make based on inadequate information. Almost by definition, the risk of an epidemic occurs when the one thing disease experts know for sure is that they don't know for sure what will happen.
"What new information would be sufficient to change your decision?"

Alexander's question (AKA 'Dr. Alexander's question') is a question used to uncover assumptions and associations that may be confusing your judgment. Asking what information would be needed to change your mind can help bring faulty reasoning to light, and it can also point out what facts you should be researching before committing yourself and others to a course of action.

The uncertainty about the longer-term threat of the current swine flu is a
reminder that nature is more complex than mathematical models.Scientific
hypotheses can then be tested, but this approach has limits when it
comes to predictions.
"Alexander's Question," named for a physician who had posed a canny
question of his fellow experts: What information might make the group
change its mind about the need for immunization? Focusing on it would
have led to more focus on uncertainties: the trade-off between side
effects and flu, the difference between the severity of the flu and its
spread, and the choice between mandatory vaccinations and stockpiling in
case of later need. Decision makers should ask themselves what new
"knowns" would change their views.
pandemics  epidemics  risk-assessment  L._Gordon_Crovtiz  information_flows  information  decision_making  immunization  critical_thinking  uncertainty  assumptions  questions  Dr.Alexander's_Question  information_gaps  hidden  latent  facts  change_your_mind  problem_framing  tradeoffs  flu_outbreaks  side_effects  vaccines  stockpiles  information-poor  CDC  unknowns 
may 2009 by jerryking
Information Age: Bad News Is Better Than No News - WSJ.com
Jan. 26, 2009 WSJ column by L. Gordon Crovitz focuses on the
role that information gaps have played in fomenting the financial
crisis.
L._Gordon_Crovtiz  risks  news  VaR  crisis  information  uncertainty  information_gaps  bad_news 
january 2009 by jerryking
Inherently Risky Business
June 16, 2008 WSJ column by L. Gordon Crovtiz and the danger of
not knowing what you don't know. Dwells on risk vs. uncertainty. He
give an example of uncertainty as the unknowable relationships between
disparate variables, say, a falling dollar,a housing recession and
complex asset backed securities.
information_gaps  L._Gordon_Crovtiz  risk-taking  risks  uncertainty  unknowables  unknowns 
january 2009 by jerryking
Information Haves and Have-Nots - WSJ.com
Sept. 22, 2008 | Wall Street Journal | by L. Gordon Crovitz.
Piece on the ramifications of not having access to good information has
had on pricing securities. No one asks the right questions as research
analysts desert Wall Street.
======================================
...The credit crunch can be reduced to a single word. Not "greed," which also exists in stable markets. The word is "information," the absence of which has put taxpayers on the hook for billions, ruined Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, and led to the fire sale of Merrill Lynch and AIG. The continuing absence of information about the true value of underlying securities means no one knows when the market has hit a new normal for the important purpose of rebuilding.

Why did so many smart people at so many top firms make dodgy investments? Why were there so many unknown unknowns, now at least becoming known unknowns? One explanation is the absence of warnings from research analysts. For decades, the large Wall Street brokerages had armies of analysts who, when they did their jobs right, asked the hard questions and issued tough reports that often alerted both company executives and public investors to market-moving issues.

There are now about half as many Wall Street analysts as in 2000......."Research analysts have gone the way of high-button shoes and buggy whips." Alas, unknown risks have not. The now-former senior executives at Bear Stearns, Lehman and Merrill must wish they had been able to retain all their star banking analysts. Those analysts just might have waved enough red flags -- in public or even in the hallways of the banks themselves -- to alert management to risks in their portfolios......a few of those analysts left these Wall Street firms for the "buy side," such as hedge funds, which keep their research proprietary, for their own trading. Predictably, it was well-informed short sellers at these firms who first alerted the market to the true value of credit derivatives and other mispriced instruments by driving down shares of firms such as Lehman.

At a time when real understanding is at a premium, we're increasingly in a world of information haves and have-nots......A corollary is that proprietary information will be more valuable than ever, giving well-informed traders an even bigger edge.

What's the solution? The temporary ban on short selling of financial firms will have the unintended effect of worsening the information gap. Professionals will perform the equivalent of short selling through nontransparent instruments and markets, leaving individual investors to be guided by public share prices that no longer reflect all known information......Part of the answer came in news earlier this month that Credit Suisse will make macroeconomic research from its analysts available to noninvestor clients of Gerson Lehrman Group, a powerful force in the world of independent research such as for hedge funds. Equity researchers from Credit Suisse joined the some 200,000 expert consultants that Gerson Lehrman has attracted to its network.......Clients of Gerson Lehrman pay hefty fees to tap this deep knowledge through one-on-one phone calls and meetings. Serving these clients will help Credit Suisse fund its 700-person research department.

When Gerson Lehrman launched a decade ago, it was to serve the deep information needs of investors in highly technical areas such as health and biotechnology. As Wall Street analysts began to leave the scene, it brought on experts in virtually every industry globally, with 150 research managers to help clients conduct more than 10,000 consultations monthly. These are often on arcane topics, such as the likely growth in salmon farming in Norway, or the odds of success for a particular drug trial. Perhaps some research was even done on, say, the proper pricing of derivatives.

Regulators can try to put genies back in bottles, but complex financial instruments that, when properly used, create value will only become more commonplace. Innovation will also be required for better-informed markets. By recruiting a huge number of experts and using online social-media tools to connect them to clients, firms like Gerson Lehrman can bring information, knowledge and insights to the people who most value and need it.
arcane  asking_the_right_questions  buy_side  equity_research  expert_networks  financial_instruments  Gerson_Lehrman  hedge_funds  information  information_gaps  information-poor  information-rich  L._Gordon_Crovtiz  market_intelligence  proprietary  regulators  research_analysts  selling_off  short_selling  uncertainty  unintended_consequences  unknowns  Wall_Street 
january 2009 by jerryking

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