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jerryking : thinking_tragically   23

‘Farsighted’ Review: How to Make Up Your Mind - WSJ
14 COMMENTS
By David A. Shaywitz
Sept. 11, 2018

..mission planners first systematically widened their thinking to define their options as broadly as possible, seeking a “full-spectrum appraisal of the state of things and a comprehensive list of potential choices.” Then they coned down the alternatives by playing out multiple scenarios, exploring all the ways the mission could go wrong........When faced with complex choices we tend to frame problems in a narrow fashion. .......seek participation from as broad and diverse a group as possible.....a diversity of viewpoints isn’t enough. Citing the legal scholar Cass Sunstein, Mr. Johnson observes that, although “groups often possess a rich mix of information distributed among their members,” when they assemble “they tend to focus on shared information.” Thus it is important to design a process that exposes “unshared information”—by meeting individually with stakeholders, for instance, instead of merely convening a town hall. Similarly, he cites research revealing that two-thirds of organizational decisions never contemplate more than a single option. There is a “gravitational pull toward the initial framing of the decision.” To overcome it, he suggests considering what might be done if the presumptive path forward were suddenly blocked....“Uncertainty can’t simply be analyzed out of existence,” ...What scenarios and simulations can offer is a way to “prepare you for the many ways that the future might unexpectedly veer.”..... Linear value modeling, for example, weighs the relative importance of different goals, while a bad-outcomes approach examines worst-case possibilities........given the challenges of making high-stakes global decisions. How should we respond, as a planet, to the challenges of addressing climate change, communicating with alien life forms or managing computers with superintelligence? The answer seems to be: by convening diverse experts and hoping for the best. ....... Great novels matter because “they let us experience parallel lives, and see the complexity of those experiences in vivid detail.”........ fundamentally, choices concern competing narratives, and we’re likely to make better choices if we have richer stories, with more fleshed-out characters, a more nuanced understanding of motives, and a deeper appreciation of how decisions are likely to reverberate and resound.
books  book_reviews  Cass_Sunstein  choices  decision_making  far-sightedness  howto  narrow-framing  novels  presumptions  scenario-planning  shared_experiences  Steven_Johnson  systematic_approaches  thinking_tragically  uncertainty  unshared_information  wide-framing  worst-case 
november 2018 by jerryking
Tornado-Ravaged Hospital Took Storm-Smart Approach During Rebuild - Risk & Compliance Journal.
Aug 30, 2017 | WSJ | By Ben DiPietro.

...................“Preparation for what these events can be–and belief they can actually happen–is important so you make sure you are preparing for them,” ....trying to undertake whatever is your organizational mission in the midst of a tornado or other devastating event is much harder, given the high emotions and stress that manifests itself at such moments.

“Understand the possibilities and pre-planning will make that go a lot better,”

===============================
As Hurricane Harvey has shown, extreme weather events can devastate a region’s infrastructure. Hospital operator Mercy had its own experience of this in 2011 when a tornado ripped through Joplin, Mo., killing 161 people and destroying its hospital.

Hospital operator Mercy took the lessons it learned from that tornado experience and incorporated them into the design of the new hospital–and also changed the way it plans and prepares for disasters. The new facility reflects a careful risk assessment, as Mercy took into account not only the physical risk of tornadoes but the risks to power supplies and medical supplies.

“We always prepare, always have drills for emergencies, but you never quite can prepare for losing an entire campus,” ....“Now we are preparing for that…it definitely changed the way we look at emergency management.”

** Protecting What Matters Most **
Mercy took the lessons it learned from that devastating weather event and applied them when it was time to build its latest hospital, which was constructed in a way to better withstand tornadoes while providing more secure systems infrastructure and adding backup systems to ensure operations continued unimpeded, ......Even the way medical supplies were stored was changed; instead of storing supplies in the basement, where they were inaccessible in the immediate aftermath of the tornado, they now are kept on each floor so staff don’t need to go hunting around for things they need during an emergency.....“The first priority is to save lives, the second is to minimize damage to the facility,”

** Focus on the Worst **
many companies worry about low-severity, high-frequency events–those things that happen a lot. They instead need to focus more on high-severity events that can cause a company to impair its resilience. “....identify and work on a worst-case scenario and make sure it is understood and the company is financially prepared for it,”

work with its key vendors and suppliers to know what each will do in the face of a disaster or unexpected disruption. “...large companies [should] know their key vendors prior to any major incidents,” ...“Vendors become partners at that time and you need to know people will do what you need them to do.”

A company needs to assess what is most important to its operations, map who their vendors are in those areas and engage them in various loss scenarios .... It should review its insurance policy language against possible weather events, identify any gaps and either revise policies to fill those holes or to at least make sure executives understand what the risks are of leaving those gaps unattended.
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See also :
What to Do Before Disaster Strikes - WSJ.com ☑
September 27, 2005 | WSJ | By GEORGE ANDERS.
start by cataloging what could go wrong. GM, 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.
low_probability  disasters  Hurricane_Harvey  extreme_weather_events  hospitals  tornadoes  design  rebuilding  preparation  emergencies  lessons_learned  worst-case  natural_calamities  anticipating  insurance  vulnerabilities  large_companies  redundancies  business-continuity  thinking_tragically  high-risk  risk-management  isolation  compounded  network_risk  black_swan  beforemath  frequency_and_severity  resilience  improbables  George_Anders  hazards  disaster_preparedness  what_really_matters 
september 2017 by jerryking
Wilbur Ross brings art of restructuring to Team Trump
JANUARY 21, 2017 | FT| by: Philip Delves Broughton.

“When you start out with your adversary understanding that he or she is going to have to make concessions, that’s a pretty good background to begin.”

So all this stuff about tariffs and walls and protectionism turns out to be pure gamesmanship.......In his career as an investment banker at NM Rothschild and then running his own business, WL Ross & Co, he has shown repeatedly how he can dive into an industrial dung heap and emerge with a fistful of dollars and not a speck on his silk tie......... Working on his own account, Mr Ross’s most famous deal was his purchase of an ailing group of US steelmakers in 2002, shortly before President George W Bush imposed tariffs on imports of steel. Mr Ross used the protection to fix the operations, cut debt and draft new contracts with workers. He was able to take the company public in 2003 and sell it two years later to the Indian steel mogul Lakshmi Mittal.

He has pulled off similar tricks, mostly successfully in coal mining, textiles and banking, immersing himself again and again in new industries and the minutiae of the laws, trade rules and contracts that govern them.

As a student at Harvard Business School, Mr Ross was mentored by Georges Doriot, a pioneering advocate for venture capital, who said: “People who do well in life understand things that other people don’t understand.”
For bothering to understand things that most people don’t, Mr Ross deserves more credit than he gets. He is often easily dismissed as a vulture or someone who buys low and sells high. But what he has done is hard. The devil in restructuring is in the grinding detail of voluminous contracts and difficult, often highly emotional negotiations.
Wilbur_Ross  negotiations  steel  Georges_Doriot  HBS  vulture_investing  new_industries  sophisticated  bankruptcy  messiness  thinking_tragically  dispassion  preparation  leverage  emotions  Lakshmi_Mittal  moguls  restructurings  tariffs  imports  gamesmanship  unsentimental  hard_work  minutiae  protectionism  arcane_knowledge  inequality_of_information  Philip_Delves_Broughton  vulttion 
january 2017 by jerryking
Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person
MAY 28, 2016 | The New York Times | By ALAIN de BOTTON.

We all fear marrying the wrong person...Partly, it’s because we have many latent problems that emerge when we try to get close to others (we seem normal only to those who don’t know us very well. In a wiser, more self-aware society, a standard question on any early dinner date would be: “And how are you crazy?”)....The problem is that before marriage, we rarely delve into our complexities. ...Our partners are no more self-aware although we make a stab at trying to understand them....we seek a (false) sense that we’ve done our homework. We haven’t.....What matters in the marriage of feeling--romantic love--is that two people are drawn to each other by an overwhelming instinct and know in their hearts that it is right.....we believe ourselves to be seeking happiness in marriage, it isn’t that simple. What we really seek is familiarity — which may well complicate any plans we might have had for happiness. ...as grown-ups find ourselves rejecting certain candidates for marriage not because they are wrong but because they are too right — too balanced, mature, understanding and reliable — given that in our hearts, such rightness feels foreign. We marry the wrong people because we don’t associate being loved with feeling happy....We make mistakes, too, because we are so lonely. No one can be in an optimal frame of mind to choose a partner when remaining single feels unbearable.....Finally, we marry to make a nice feeling permanent. We imagine that marriage will help us to bottle the joy we felt when the thought of proposing first came to us....We marry to make joyful sensations permanent but fail to see that there is no solid connection between these feelings and the institution of marriage....The good news is that it doesn’t matter if we find we have married the wrong person. We mustn’t abandon him or her, only the founding "romantic love" idea upon which the Western understanding of marriage has been based the last 250 years: that a perfect being exists who can meet all our needs and satisfy our every yearning....swap the Romantic Love view for a tragic (and at points comedic) awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will (without any malice) do the same to them. There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we're willing to sign up for.

This philosophy of pessimism--thinking tragically--offers a solution to a lot of distress and agitation around marriage. It might sound odd, but pessimism relieves the excessive imaginative pressure that our romantic culture places upon marriage. The failure of one particular partner to save us from our grief and melancholy is not an argument against that person and no sign that a union deserves to fail or be upgraded.

The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the “not overly wrong” person.

Romantic Love has been unhelpful to us; it is a harsh philosophy. It has made a lot of what we go through in marriage seem exceptional and appalling. We end up lonely and convinced that our union, with its imperfections, is not “normal.” We should learn to accommodate ourselves to “wrongness,” striving always to adopt a more forgiving, humorous and kindly perspective on its multiple examples in ourselves and in our partners.
Communicating_&_Connecting  conflict_resolution  disagreements  disappointment  expectations  forgiveness  generosity  grace  humour  imperfections  intimacy  marriage  perspectives  pessimism  relationships  romantic_love  serving_others  thinking_tragically 
may 2016 by jerryking
The Choices That Led Small Business Owners to Wealth - The New York Times
FEB. 12, 2016 | NYT | By PAUL SULLIVAN

have to make decisions to professionalize the business, put systems in place and have a plan that allows them to do longer-term planning. Those decisions can make the difference between being a small-business owner and a business executive with significant wealth....“There is no bright-line test when a company gets to a certain size or age to do these things,” said Kevin M. Harris, head of the family business group at Northern Trust. “It is based on where the company wants to go.”

Determining which decisions were the ones that made the difference is sometimes not an easy task, and the stories that are retold are often the ones that turned out well. Yet it is worth considering what can go wrong.

Entrepreneurs who failed to find success were often resistant to change
small_business  wealth_creation  decision_making  entrepreneur  risk-taking  mindsets  JCK  thinking_tragically  Northern_Trust  owners  private_banking  choices  internal_systems  professionalization  high_net_worth 
february 2016 by jerryking
Open data is not a panacea | mathbabe
December 29, 2012 Cathy O'Neil,
And it’s not just about speed. You can have hugely important, rich, and large data sets sitting in a lump on a publicly available website like wikipedia, and if you don’t have fancy parsing tools and algorithms you’re not going to be able to make use of it.

When important data goes public, the edge goes to the most sophisticated data engineer, not the general public. The Goldman Sachs’s of the world will always know how to make use of “freely available to everyone” data before the average guy.

Which brings me to my second point about open data. It’s general wisdom that we should hope for the best but prepare for the worst. My feeling is that as we move towards open data we are doing plenty of the hoping part but not enough of the preparing part.

If there’s one thing I learned working in finance, it’s not to be naive about how information will be used. You’ve got to learn to think like an asshole to really see what to worry about. It’s a skill which I don’t regret having.

So, if you’re giving me information on where public schools need help, I’m going to imagine using that information to cut off credit for people who live nearby. If you tell me where environmental complaints are being served, I’m going to draw a map and see where they aren’t being served so I can take my questionable business practices there.
open_data  unintended_consequences  preparation  skepticism  naivete  no_regrets  Goldman_Sachs  tools  algorithms  Cathy_O’Neil  thinking_tragically  slight_edge  sophisticated  unfair_advantages  smart_people  data_scientists  gaming_the_system  dark_side 
december 2013 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]
engineering  sense_of_control  black_swan  warning_signs  9/11  HIV  Aids  business_schools  MBAs  attitudes  interconnections  interdependence  mindsets  Stanford  imagination  systems_thinking  anticipating  probabilities  pretense_of_knowledge  risk-management  thinking_tragically  complexity  catastrophes  shorthand  incentives  quantified_self  multiple_stressors  compounded  human_errors  risks  risk-analysis  synchronicity  cumulative  self-protection  systematic_approaches 
november 2013 by jerryking
What are the first three questions you should ask before investing in a private company? - Institute for Individual Investors
February 22, 2008

1) What is the background of the key people in this business and what have they each accomplished in this type of business in the past? As part of that question, what is their best accomplishment and what is the worst mistake they have made in business?
2)What competitive advantages does the business have? The competitive advantages should be laid out in the business plan.
3)What could go wrong and prevent the start-up from achieving its goals? If the key people do not have a list of what could go wrong, you should not invest in the start-up, because they have not done a thorough job of planning to make the start-up successful.
angels  due_diligence  privately_held_companies  thinking_tragically  think_threes  team_risk  investing  investors  questions  competitive_advantage 
march 2013 by jerryking
Nine key traits to make the shift from failure to success - The Globe and Mail
HARVEY SCHACHTER

Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Tuesday, Oct. 09 2012

1. Rebounders accept failure: They hate to fail, but they accept it, and try to fail productively, learning from the experience, as the inventive Thomas Edison did with his many failed experiments.

2. Rebounders compartmentalize options: They are often emotional people, with drive and passion. John Bogle, who founded Vanguard Group, was furious when he was pushed out of a previous job and even had revenge fantasies. But he didn’t spend time trying to get even. Rebounders control the emotional fallout of their struggle (i.e. emotional mastery).

3. Rebounders have a bias toward action: After Tammy Duckworth lost both legs when her U.S. military helicopter was shot down in Iraq, her first impulse was to get to work at rehabilitation and her new life. Rebounders keep pushing, keep doing.

4. Rebounders change their minds: They can discard old thinking, give up on long-held dreams, and adjust their ambitions to evolving situations. They don’t cling to ideas that are proving hopeless.

5. Rebounders prepare for things to go wrong: They don’t expect things to go their own way. They are cautious optimists, always aware their plans may go awry.

6. Rebounders are comfortable with discomfort: They are willing to accept hardships and inconveniences as long as they feel they are getting closer to their goal. Singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams could have signed a major recording deal years earlier if she had agreed to make the songs the music companies wanted, but she stayed true to her own vision, even if it meant often barely having the money to pay her rent.

7. Rebounders are willing to wait: They are determined to succeed on their own terms, and can accept that it might take a long time. “But rebounders don’t just wait positively for a lucky break, or do the same thing over and over. They constantly learn and get better, continually improving the likelihood of success until the odds tilt in their favour,” Mr. Newman observes.

8. Rebounders have heroes: Many of the rebounders he met are romantics, seeing their role as in some way historic, and they are entranced by some mentor or historical figure who they want to emulate. Vanguard’s Mr. Bogle, for example, often alluded to the naval battles of Admiral Lord Nelson and named his mutual fund company after his hero’s ship.

9. Rebounders have more than passion: We are told we need passion for success, but rebounders realize it requires more than that. They have a special drive and resilience that allows them to capitalize on their passion.
bouncing_back  resilience  Harvey_Schachter  emotional_mastery  personality_types/traits  ksfs  long-term  patience  preparation  contingency_planning  reflections  self-analysis  self-awareness  thinking_tragically  discomforts  strategic_patience  adaptability  inconveniences  passions  heroes  pragmatism  compartmentalization  action-oriented  hardships  next_play 
october 2012 by jerryking
All he is saying is give war a chance: Democracy and world peace are really not such great ideas. Just ask author Robert Kaplan
11 Mar 2000| National Post pg B5 |Alexander Rose.

Whatever else journalist Robert D. Kaplan picked up during his sojourn in the Great Back of Beyond, it wasn't universal love, touch-feely harmony and a We-Are-The-World attitude. In this newspaper last weekend, reviewing The Coming Anarchy -- a collection of his recent assays he was in Canada to promote this week — Misha Glenny aptly remarked: "If you want to feel uplifted about the human condition, you should steer clear of Kaplan's work as a general rule." An example; The way to make this world a better place Kaplan casually proposes in his new collection of essays (named after his famous 1994 article in The Atlantic Monthly predicting cultural clashes, tribal and widespread environmental meltdown), is for Congress to reauthorize assassination as a political instrument to grasp that democracy is not suitable for everyone; and that world peace would actually make war likelier.

"I've spent a great deal of my life covering wars," he says. Moreover, "unlike a lot of journalists, I read -- I read a lot, a lot of history, a lot of philosophy.

Look at Livy (the ancient Roman historian)...'Drew him to classical philosophy. ''If you read the ancient Chinese, or Cicero, Machiavelli or Herodotus, these a strain running through them - which is that if you always think about might go wrong, things might start going right and you can avoid tragedy.'' Thus, ''tragedy is avoidable if you always maintain a sense of it.''

The problem, however, is that "the times we live in are so prosperous for us that it's hard to think tragically." And, most alarmingly, "Revolutions and upheavals happen when things are getting better, not worse."

...When Mr. Kaplan speaks of "realists" he is describing the Hobbesian view that man has a rapacious, brutal, selfish nature. On the world stage, this translates as furiously competing sovereign states battling over their respective interests, many of which are intractable. Realists therefore believe eternal and armed vigilance, not highfalutin UN declarations, are the key to ensuring "human security". ...Kaplan believes that there are three strands of "realism" battle for supremacy...."You don't have to believe in global warming, but we're entering a world in which there will be six billion of us and you have to realize that there are now enough of us living in urbanized conditions that we're occupying zones which are climatically and tectonically fragile. "Now, we've got 70% of the Chinese population producing two-thirds of the industrial output living in flood zones. Forget about Mozambique -- that's a sideshow."...So what advice would he give our Department of Foreign Affairs so that Canada could punch above its weight in the world?

Says Kaplan, without skipping a beat: "It's hard for a country of 30 million to have a pivotal impact. So the way to do it is to get behind an idea everyone knows is smart but nobody has the time or the inclination to push."

Is Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy's position on human rights and human security one such "smart idea"? Mr. Kaplan gives it short shrift (actually, no shrift at all). "It's far too flaccid and formless to be taken seriously because all he's really stating is a kind of easy truth. Tough truths, on the other hand, are things like when and where you intervene and under what circumstances.

"So, I would say Canada needs to go on fast forward to a Global Constabulary Force. NATO, with all its problems, worked well in Kosovo and Bosnia. So, we [i.e., Canada] will create an out-of-area military branch of NATO with some non-European members -- such as Japan, Australia, India, Brazil -- to form the core of the GCF." Then "we'll have a wider range of options during the next Rwanda, or next time something happens in a place with no strategic interest to anyone but where there's an overwhelming sense that we should 'do something.' But just talking about human security ... The minute you have something that everyone agrees with you know it's useless."

A lesson from the master himself.
Robert_Kaplan  journalists  realism  realpolitik  political_theory  floodplains  history  worst-case  Niccolò_Machiavelli  middle-powers  thinking_tragically  human_rights  human_security  Romans  Greek  the_human_condition  punch-above-its-weight  world_stage 
july 2012 by jerryking
Unforeseen consequences - FT.com
May 24, 2007 | Financial Times |By Robert Matthews.

The Germans have a word for it: Schlimmbesserung - literally, a "worse improvement". You may not recognise the word, but you'll know plenty of examples of what it means: efficiency drives that reduce efficiency, cost-cutting measures that prove punitively expensive, software upgrades that cause months of downtime.

All businesses can fall victim to such "revenge effects"....

Edward Tenner, a visiting scholar in the department of history and sociology of science at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Why Things Bite Back, the classic study of the phenomenon first published in 1996, believes there are several measures that businesses can take. Indeed, he has given lectures at Microsoft, Intel and AT&T on the subject.

Ensuring there is in-house expertise that can spot emerging revenge effects and deal with the consequences is crucial, Mr Tenner says. "Many companies fail to deal with revenge effects because they are 'outsourcing their brains'," he says. "Lean organisations are supposed to be more flexible, but they may also be giving up a lot of their capability to respond to change."

According to Mr Tenner, businesses can keep a constant watch for reports of potential revenge effects in news and research findings. This has never been easier, thanks to online tools such as Google news alerts and RSS (really simple syndication) feeds.

Even so, revenge effects have a nasty habit of affecting businesses in unexpected ways. "The precondition of vigilance is the selection and development of ability at all levels,"

thinking about the downside to new developments can save a lot of heartache. "Excessive optimism risks revenge effects," he says. "You have to be prepared to work in Murphy's Law mode - and to consider that every possible thing that can go wrong will go wrong."
unintended_consequences  books  limitations  in-house  specificity  outsourcing  unexpected  revenge_effects  Murphy's_Law  thinking_tragically  lean  adaptability  flexibility  responsiveness  change  downtime 
june 2012 by jerryking
Why Panic Passes Him By - WSJ.com
October 15, 2008 | WSJ | By PAUL B. CARROLL who reviews
The Snowball
By Alice Schroeder
(Bantam, 960 pages, $35)

Why Panic Passes Him By
All you wanted to know about Warren Buffett – and more.

While much of Mr. Buffett's methods can't be duplicated -- genius is genius, after all -- "The Snowball" usefully emphasizes a few core Buffett imperatives: taking a close look at an investment's intrinsic value, making a brutal evaluation of its risks, and calculating a margin of safety. The book also underscores the importance of learning from failures. The Buffett-Munger approach is to "invert, always invert. Turn a situation or problem upside down. Look at it backward. What's in it for the other guy? What happens if all our plans go wrong? Where don't we want to go, and how do you get there? Instead of looking for success, make a list of how to fail instead."
Berkshire_Hathaway  book_reviews  books  Charlie_Munger  failure  genius  intrinsic_value  investing  investors  lessons_learned  margin_of_safety  off-plan  panics  Plan_B  post-mortems  risk-assessment  thinking_backwards  thinking_tragically  Warren_Buffett  worst-case 
june 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
Reporters: Prick up your ears -
Thorsell, William. The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 01 Dec 2003: .13.

The 35th anniversary of CBC Radio's As It Happens is an exception, because AIH retains so much of its vigour despite the passage of time, the pestilence of fads and the pomposity of managers who come and go. Its durability tells us something about good journalism.

Journalism students often ask what the single most important quality of a good journalist is. The best answer is "curiosity," which may kill cats but supports almost every virtue that a good journalist possesses. If a journalist doesn't learn something in the course of doing his or her job, neither do you. And if you don't learn something, journalism is failing you, and you will tune it out before long.

The people on As It Happens have sustained this capacity. They do their homework on the issues, and in conducting interviews, they follow the conversation, elicit new information and learn.

Barbara Frum once said that the most important tool of a good interviewer is listening, because it is often what your subject says in answering that provokes the next and most revealing question. ...Mary Lou Finlay's curiosity remains keen six years into hosting As It Happens , and 28 years after joining CBC Toronto itself. You can hear her listening and following up on the content of interviews as she goes. You can hear her learning -- being surprised -- which offers the listener the rewards of the chase and a share in the gift of the new. But there's more.

The classic definition of journalism in most newsrooms is "what went wrong yesterday," with some attention given to "what might go wrong tomorrow." Both of these negative paradigms are relevant, AIH understands that good journalism requires application to other paradigms as well: "what went right yesterday" and "what might go right tomorrow." ...Curiosity is a defining characteristic of the young (as certainty is of the old). Journalism struggles to stay young.
reporters  journalists  ProQuest  William_Thorsell  journalism  listening  surprises  curiosity  thinking_tragically  the_single_most_important 
october 2011 by jerryking
Prepared for the worst?
May 14, 2011 | Stabroek News | Editorial.

Natural disasters are, by definition, unforeseeable; but an ounce of prevention can be worth a pound of cure. Better levees would have averted much of the worst damage when Katrina struck New Orleans; Japan could have placed its power plants further inland (and away from earthquake fault-lines); and deep-water drilling could have been better regulated in the Gulf. We should not discount the need to maintain sea defences (squatters and other hindrances notwithstanding) and undertake other necessary measures before we find ourselves in a crisis. The absence of disasters nearly always breeds complacency; budgets are slashed and worst-case scenarios dismissed, until the chance for preventive maintenance has passed. But none of that should obscure the fact that the worst time to prepare for a storm is when the clouds have already gathered.
natural_calamities  prevention  preparation  worst-case  disasters  disaster_myopia  disaster_preparedness  complacency  thinking_tragically 
may 2011 by jerryking
Surviving the Age of Humiliation - WSJ.com
MAY 5, 2010 | Wall Street Journal | By JEFFREY ZASLOW.

THE BEST DEFENSE

* Expect the worst. If you run a business, assume disgruntled employees will make accusations about you. If you're a teacher, expect to be badmouthed by angry students on RateMyProfessors.com. If you've endured a hostile divorce, keep your guard up, and be ready to mop up spilled secrets.
* Get up to speed. You may be written about on blogs, Twitter and other social-networking sites. Learn exactly how new media sites work, who uses them and how you can be adept at it, too
* Reframe the discussion. Actor Alec Baldwin wrote that he felt great shame, and even thought of suicide, after an angry voicemail message he left for his 11-year-old daughter went viral. He eventually channeled his feelings into a book about fathers' rights and divorce, which allowed him to explain his outburst and weigh in on the debate over custody issues
* Have thick skin. Ignore efforts to hurt you on obscure blogs or websites, as these often dissipate on their own. As for cyber-bullying of children, parents tend to overreact—calling other parents over minor incidents, making things even harder for their kids at school—or under-react, not responding to serious incidents. It's best to tell kids: "Together we'll find the right way to deal with this—to help you and not make things worse.
* Fight back. Thomas Jefferson believed that the best way to combat critical speech was to speak out yourself. Start your own blog or post your own comments. If it's vital that you defend yourself, do so forcefully, without fear and with self-confidence.
personal_branding  reputation  etiquette  civility  public_decorum  popular_culture  Jeffrey_Zaslow  humility  reframing  humiliation  problem_framing  serious_incidents  Thomas_Jefferson  worst-case  thinking_tragically 
may 2010 by jerryking
Letters to the Editor - Magazine - The Atlantic
Sept. 2005 | Atlantic | Assorted letters w.r.t Robert Kaplan's
cover story "How We Would Fight China" (June). "I believe that China's
intentions are much more defensive than offensive. But the U.S. mil.
must plan according to the capabilities of rising powers with which we
do not have alliances—because intentions and motives can shift
overnight. Although China's intentions may be good, PACOM would not be
doing its job for the taxpayers unless it planned for that to change."
"Of course, diplomacy will provide the ultimate solution in the Pacific,
but in order to avoid tragedy the military must think tragically.
Getting that right increases the credibility of our diplomacy. " "The fundamental driver of Chinese for. policy is not rapacious expansionism or Bismarckian realpolitik...China's for. policy is.. an extension of its domestic politics, specifically the ambition of the Communist Party to retain its pre-eminence despite the ongoing and wholesale transformation of Chinese society."
letters_to_the_editor  Robert_Kaplan  China  China_rising  U.S._Navy  maritime  PACOM  thinking_tragically  intentions  capabilities  South_China_Sea  motives 
march 2010 by jerryking
Fear of China - WSJ.com
APRIL 21, 2006 | Wall Street Journal | by ROBERT D. KAPLAN.
"Given the stakes involved in the competition between the U.S. and China
in the new century, the only way that the business community's optimism
can be sustained is if the U.S. military thinks and plans in terms of
worst-case scenarios." "Motives -- especially in a dynamic and volatile
society such as China's -- can easily change over time, and are
dependent upon unforeseen domestic and foreign crises. Thus, when it
comes to countries that are not allies, the job of a military is to
think in terms of capabilities; not motives."... While American and
European elites think purely in terms of globalization, Chinese leaders
think also in terms of 19th-century grand strategy. "relationships are
more important than hardware." "Thinking pessimistically about China
should never be a self-fulfilling prophecy,"
Robert_Kaplan  China  ambitions  scenario-planning  worst-case  U.S._military  motivations  capabilities  strategic_thinking  PACOM  grand_strategy  thinking_tragically 
march 2010 by jerryking
Good Execution Beats a Bad Idea
Nov 23, 2009 | Fortune Vol. 160, Iss. 10; pg. 42 | by Mina
Kimes. "During my second year at Harvard Business School, I had a
fascinating professor named Gen. Georges Doriot. One of the things he
told me was, You're better off backing a mediocre idea that's
brilliantly implemented than a brilliant idea that's badly executed. My
Advice to You: 1. Reward Efficiency. 2. Ask the Right Questions. 3. Set a
Walking-Away Price 4. Don't Bet on a Recovery 5. Keep Your Cool 6.Study
Before You Leap
Wilbur_Ross  turnarounds  moguls  execution  rules_of_the_game  tips  Georges_Doriot  questions  thinking_tragically  dispassion  preparation  reservation_prices  HBS  efficiencies  asking_the_right_questions 
november 2009 by jerryking
Farewell, Tranquil Mind - WSJ.com
FEBRUARY 23, 2009| Wall Street Journal| by BRET STEPHENS. A
book review of 7 Deadly Scenarios By Andrew F. Krepinevich (Bantam, 334
pages, $27). Worst case scenarios that can plausibly happen to the
U.S., geopolitically speaking, within the next decade.
book_reviews  security_&_intelligence  terrorism  geopolitics  Bret_Stephens  worst-case  thinking_tragically 
march 2009 by jerryking
reportonbusiness.com: Disaster relief
November 28, 2008 at 2:46 PM EST G&M article by DOUG STEINER
Rules for post-disaster investing.
Step 1: Cope and gather new data. Smart people in hurricane-prone areas build defences into their homes and businesses, then watch the weather. Do you do that with your investments?.... Don't invest aimlessly assuming that you'll be able to avoid a crash, then buy at the bottom. I don't know when the next market plunge will happen or how deep it will be, but I'm fortifying my investment castle against disaster by spending less and saving more....Look for new sources of information.
Step 2: Analyze the data. I'm not smart, but I looked at historic data and made a connection-what happens in the U.S. usually happens here, too. We worried enough to sell our house in 2007, but I wasn't disaster-hardened enough to rent, so we bought a smaller house.
Step 3: Consider what country you're in
Step 4: Identify the worst thing that could happen right now. You think Canada's economy is grim? How about the city of Detroit, where the median price of a house or condo dropped to $9,250 (U.S.) in September from $21,250 (U.S.) just a year earlier? Could things get that bad here? Almost certainly not.
Step 5: Act when things stop getting worse (there's an element of "next play" here). Don't wait till they start getting better. If you wait for positive signs, it will be too late. I like hotpads.com, the U.S. real estate search engine with information on foreclosures from RealtyTrac. It lets you swoop across a map of the country like a vulture, looking for distressed properties. I'm not looking in Detroit, but I am interested in Longboat Key, Florida. I'm also combining the online information on foreclosures with updates from a local real estate agent who's desperate for buyers, and who forwards me every property listed in the area.
Step 6: Find out who's ahead of the curve and learn from them. The most interesting financial analysis these days isn't in stock and bond markets-it's in the markets for things like natural disaster insurance. A 2007 study, led by Laurens Bouwer from the Institute of Environmental Studies at Vrije University in Amsterdam (remember that Dutch people living below sea level are keenly interested in floods), includes estimates of the costs of future weather-related disasters. By 2015, potential financial losses from disasters in the world's 10 largest cities will likely climb by up to 88%. Three recommendations: 1) Get more and better data. 2) When adapting to surroundings, take precautions to reduce disaster risk. 3) Find new financial instruments or innovations to spread risks among investors.
Step 7: Invest where the potential returns are highest relative to the risks. Even though stock markets have plunged due to panic, they may not be the most profitable place to put your money in the future. The worst mispricing of assets will almost certainly be in the real estate market, so that's where you may find some of the best bargains. Detroit might turn into a mecca for artists, where $9,000 buys you a house in a neighbourhood that may rebound and thrive. You just have to have the courage to look at the disaster data and act.
ahead_of_the_curve  crisis  dark_side  de-risking  defensive_tactics  disasters  Doug_Steiner  extreme_weather_events  financial_instruments  financial_innovation  first_movers  information_sources  instrumentation_monitoring  investing  lessons_learned  measurements  mispricing  next_play  precaution  risk-sharing  rules_of_the_game  smart_people  thinking_tragically  tips  worst-case 
february 2009 by jerryking

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