How much work does Financial Services still have to do?


Directions

It is a serious question! It genuinely bothers me that FS is rated as less trusted than banking [Edelman Trust Barometer] for the third straight year.

Equally I am incredulous that the UK insurance industry has the audacity to, still, be talking about increasing “professionalism” when the Aldermanbury Declaration is nothing more than yet another attempt at (well-practised) misdirection…or, if you like, ‘turd-polishing’.

Don’t try to see into the future using the past as your lens!

You are looking in the wrong direction. By all means know about and learn from the past but don’t use the wrong lens to try to look too far ahead. As a concerned mother of my parents’ generation would say “you’ll just strain your eyes”! Look within: not necessarily in some mystical or philosophical sense – although there are numerous historical references that still hold good – but in a practical manner as far as the structure, culture and operation of the business is concerned. And in a metaphorical sense in respect of your own biological system. Read more of this post

Gawande:: to err is human [or don’t mess with complexity!]


@atul_gawande by pixbymaia

@atul_gawande by pixbymaia (Photo credit: pixbymaia)

OK, so this isn’t quite what Atul Gawande says in his excellent book, ‘The Checklist Manifesto’ (link to title on Amazon) but, when highly skilled people whom we trust to see us across thousands of miles of open sea in an aircraft or through a critical 6 hour surgery, it may as well be! It is a strikingly similar message to that promoted by Nassim [Black Swan] Taleb and, implicitly, by Ontonix.

I don’t know about you but, if I am going on a transatlantic flight, under the knife or entrusting a lifetime’s worth of savings to an expert, I really don’t care that they may use a checklist to improve their chances of success! Rather that than rely upon a fluffy mascot, lucky bandana or some other such nonsense! Read more of this post

Duncan Watts [presentation]:: The Myth of Common Sense


Duncan Watts is a clever guy! Not just because he is well educated, which he undoubtedly is but because he has the ability to explain why “common sense” works in the appropriate domain(s) – simple, maybe even complicated – but is particularly dangerous in complex or chaotic domains. But, then again, that is what this definition tells us: “sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts“. But when I talk about these different domains you should not visualise this as “islands” or separate entities. Rather, as various “conditions” or “states” that can be found within a single complex [adaptive] system, its sub-systems and networks at any given time, as it performs the many inter-connected processes that underpin functionality.

Why is this relevant? Because “common sense” isn’t much use if you are dealing with a system so complex that you CANNOT understand its complexity, track causality or anticipate the unintended outcomes (or unintended consequences)! Where the smallest decisions can have enormous consequences and the smartest decisions can be counter-intuitive, how can they be validated when the crowd advocate “common sense”???

I urge you to watch the presentation (even read the book!) and, if this has whetted your appetite, you may also be interested in what Atul Gawande has to say about surgeons dealing with complexity, Tim Harford talking about Oil Rigs or Dave Snowden a kids party!

Social problems…must be viewed not as the subject of rhetorical debates, but as scientific problems, in the sense that some combination of theory, data, and experiment can provide useful insights beyond that which can be derived through intuition and experience alone.

Freakonomics » The Myth of Common Sense: Why The Social World Is Less Obvious Than It Seems.

Too often we are guilty of over-estimating our own knowledge and underestimating what appears familiar even though we know that appearances can be deceptive – some “creatures” are particularly adept at exploiting this knowledge – and how much we have learnt by looking deeper (into space) or more closely (DNA, bacteria). Living systems come in all shapes and sizes but their true nature and an understanding their “structure” cannot be ascertained without observation at a variety of scales.

Atul Gawande:: Failure and Rescue – The New Yorker


Management of Complexity

Unless I’m very much mistaken this extract, from a truly inspiring piece of writing – from Atul Gawande, author of The Checklist Manifesto – reinforces THE lessons we all need to learn:

"Practise without sound theory does not scale"

It is not sufficient to assume that the appearance of knowledge (including statistical correlations) at physical, conscious* or "superficial" level alone is a reliable basis for decision-making when dealing with high complexity.

“High complexity is incompatible with high precision” – this is known as L. Zadeh’s Principle of Incompatibility

Our (conscious*) cognitive ability is limited so, dealing with complexity, requires synthesis of brain and the sub-conscious mind (our experiential memory): Creative Intelligence – curiosity, cognition and intuition.

Vital systems, networks and sub-systems within complex systems can be invisible to conventional tools. To learn about them requires observation which drives innovation. Because decisions required to maintain the health (or resilience) of complex systems are often counterintuitive so require "deeper" observation e.g. MRI scan, insight and understanding of (causal) interconnectedness.

Read more of this post

Complexity: The power to save lives…or to cost them.


check.jpg 

ontomed_logoHealthcare is already something that Ontonix are involved in and have specific products for (click on OntoMed logo).

Very recently I had the privilege of meeting one of Dr Atul Gawande’s colleagues, a Research Fellow, who had been involved in the WHO research referred to in Dr Gawande’s book and that caused such a stir in 2009.

This isn’t his first book . In his book Complications, he  is refreshingly forthright about the nature of the work he undertakes. Gawande describes the tasks of the men and women of the medical trade in a way that many may find unsettling: "We drug people, put needles and tubes into them, manipulate their chemistry, biology, and physics, lay them unconscious and open their bodies up to the world." Even more revealing is the book is divided into sections titled "Fallibility," "Mystery," and "Uncertainty."

The topics Gawande takes on include the practical necessity of having surgical students train on live patients, the confusing psychology of bodily illness, the question of why doctors make mistakes, the repercussions when they descend into periods of incompetence (they often keep practicing), and the peculiarities of relying on intuition in situations of life and death.

Now I don’t profess to be a medical person, but, like anyone else, realise that I may need to rely upon their professional expertise at some point in the future. I find it refreshing that influential people within medicine recognise that COMPLEXITY and UNCERTAINTY can be simplified by asking the right questions in advance. And that, as a result, better outcomes can be achieved.

Maybe, eventually, other professionals, C-level Executives and those that carry the associated financial risks will realise that there are some significant lessons to be learnt from questioning current practises and conventional wisdom.

There is no excuse for "failing to prepare…" and every reason to ask different and better questions.

"Avoidable failures are common and persistent, not to mention demoralizing and frustrating, across many fields — from medicine to finance, business to government," he writes.

"And the reason is increasingly evident: the volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our individual ability to deliver its benefits correctly, safely, or reliably. Knowledge has both saved and burdened us."

via With ‘The Checklist Manifesto,’ Atul Gawande writes a powerful, clear testament to a deceptively simple tool | cleveland.com.

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