Survival?:: distinguish between opportunities and threats

Benoit Mandelbrot introduced us to the world of fractals and, low-and-behold, it transpires that, when it comes to dealing with complex systems such as the human body, the smaller the scale of our investigation the closer we get to the root cause of a problem. Our success-rate when it comes to dealing with diseases that, unseen, attack and erode the system from within, has increased exponentially.

Why, then, does the “business world” chose to ignore such lessons? Preferring instead to try to estimate what the future might hold based upon a fuzzy image of the present and a black & white image of the past. Our technology has evolved whilst much our thinking is mired in a, now past, era.

Whether you believe that business is war (and vice versa) or not you cannot help but be aware that it is the same in the Animal Kingdom as it is in business: those who would do you harm have evolved camouflage that enables them to merge into their surroundings and get as close to their intended victim as they can.

If your vision or other senses are impaired or the predator uses the environment to their advantage you are easy prey…THINK ABOUT IT AND ACT!!! Lose the blinkers.

Question what you know, how you know it, who you trust, their motives, the basis of their knowledge. If they can’t provide you with a High Definition image of that which you seek to observe, you may have been fooled their camouflage OR be sleepwalking toward oblivion with your only comfort being that you will be far from alone!

Ontonix don’t do sleepwalking: Rate-A-Business

How can you become a reframer and continuously practice mental model innovation? As Nooyi and Immelt did, you first need to change the lens through which you observe and interpret the business world — a world that’s getting increasingly complex. To use a metaphor from photography, you can’t capture nor appreciate the full richness and complexity of the physical world if you only take snapshots using a still camera with a fixed 2D lens — and do it only during the daytime. Rather, you need to train your mind to act as a sophisticated “mental camera”…

See Innovation Opportunities with an Upgraded Mental Camera – Navi Radjou, Jaideep Prabhu, Prasad Kaipa, Simone Ahuja – Harvard Business Review.

Insurance Industry:: Innovation, transformation or failure

If you have visited my blog before you will already know that I have spent some considerable time researching and commenting upon a wide of topics that, although many within insurance fail to see the connection, are related directly related to the insurance industry.

In truth, my work was initially prompted by concerns (a deep dissatisfaction may be more appropriate!) about how the insurance (particularly broking) operated: structure; culture; regulation; remuneration levels; use of IT; cover; pricing of RISK. It was only as I delved deeper into the subject matter, a form of ‘root cause analysis’ [RCA] – causality being particularly pertinent to insurance! – that I came to fully appreciate HOW DANGEROUSLY LIMITED the understanding and application of a probability-based assessment of risk truly was. Especially when the business environment has, fundamentally and irrevocably, changed.

If a future event will take place, it will do so irrespective of the probability that we may have attached to it. If an extremely  unlikely event will happen, it’s probability of occurrence is already 100%

Having been introduced to Complexity (by Dr Jacek Marczyk, Founder of Ontonix srl) and it’s relationship to risk and uncertainty my RCA led me to investigate from a (more rigorous) scientific and mathematical perspective. Eventually into the realm of the behaviour of Complex Systems and, inevitably, to Systems Thinking. Gradually, the understanding, that comes from viewing life and work through the Systems lens, revealed that much of what is wrong with Financial Services stems from unnatural interventions.

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“Never in the history of the world have we faced so much complexity combined with so much incompetence and understanding of its properties” Nassim Taleb [Black Swan].

Without the appropriate tools complexity is unseen: it is both problem-solving capability and, unmanaged, has the capacity to destroy a business [system] from within.

When it comes to reducing the “noise” around signals, upon which our shared-future may depend, they don’t get more effective that Nassim Taleb and, the late, Benoit Mandelbrot. This interview from 2008 is well worth re-visiting.

But so many appear totally absorbed into the prevailing culture that they have their eyes on the “prize” of extrinsic rewards, such as sales commissions or other financial rewards that, admittedly, do work well when a task simply requires people to follow a formula. However, according to research cited by Dan Pink, for jobs that require complex or creative thinking, extrinsic rewards can be dangerous, because they tend to restrict people’s ability to notice things on the periphery and craft novel solutions.

The inability to discern SIGNAL from NOISE when we are, increasingly, suffering from information-overload is, perhaps, understandable. But it can be a tell-tale sign that a business is overlooking or ignoring vital signals from its environment [marketplace; ecosystem] or that the ability to interpret is impaired…whatever the excuse the signals are aplenty but it does require an acceptance of the need to look and to LISTEN.

“Never in the history of the world have we faced so much complexity combined with so much incompetence and understanding of its properties” Nassim Taleb.

Do you work in a “Corporate Death camp”?:: Prof Roger Steare on “Moral DNA”

One thing I have come to really appreciate about the “Corporate Philosopher’s” approach is his pursuit of the root cause of so many of the [Corporate] World’s ills. We can only really get reliable answers by establishing causality. That, albeit from a very different angle of attack, is what I attempt to do in business and what the technology developed by Dr Jacek Marczyk (Founder & CTO – “genius” according to this article) at Ontonix has facilitated with their model-free technology…but there is still a long way to go with spreading such understanding and insight!

But, if we are dealing with sources of systemic risk, that threaten the sustainability and resilience of ALL that we have come to rely upon, then this is a critical mission.

In the “risk society” we tend to get side-tracked, even bogged down, by the sheer volume of information that assaults our senses on a daily basis. Excessive complexity and the promotion of “flawed” correlations are allies of the leading exponents of the sick, prevailing, culture that the Prof. is intent upon “outing”. That is why TRANSPARENCY is such a threat to institutions or organisations that have cultivated and exploited an institutional mentality!!! Read more of this post

Inviting meltdown: Preserving the Status Quo with Artifice and Lies Leads to Systemic Collapse

These few words refer to the “economic domain” and, in particular, the sad state of the Euro. However, what I wanted to highlight (perhaps reiterate would be a better word) is the universality of complex systems. Hence the ability for us to learn lessons in economics from biology, politics from forestry management, etc.

But these are lessons that each and every business owner or wannabe business “leader” would do well to understand and apply NOW and NEVER FORGET! This isn’t new news or new wisdom and if you don’t believe me, contemplate this, from a few centuries ago:

“…in its beginning it is easy to cure, but hard to recognise; whereas, after a time, not having been detected and treated at the first, it becomes easy to recognise but impossible to cure”

– Niccolo Machiavelli

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