Seeing beyond flags of convenience for a virtuous ‘circle of life’


Don’t think ill of me because this (lengthy) extract is taken from an article I wrote earlier in the year [Don’t (just) believe your eyes:: heuristics + complexity = guesswork]. When I re-read it, I reckoned stood up pretty well on its own.

Also, I felt it tied in well with more frequent (and louder) calls for greater transparency and an increased awareness of the “lessons from nature” – that resilience comes from within – that are, so often, overlooked.

I hope you agree.

Too often, in the absence of information that we can understand and trust, we make assumptions based upon what we are TOLD and the outer appearance i.e. what WE see.

Our senses form part of our very own in-built risk management system! But we don’t KNOW as much as we would like to think. That is why we defer to others… 

What do we do when it comes to really big decisions…when we don’t have the opportunity/tools/expertise to establish the FACTS for ourselves? Read more of this post

Don’t (just) believe your eyes:: heuristics + complexity = guesswork


The perils of making assumptions about the integrity of an object, individual, entity, etc. are beautifully summed up in the familiar expression “never judge a book by its cover”! Despite this knowledge, I will guarantee that we have all done it, regretted it, learnt a (sometimes painful) lesson and moved on. But that still doesn’t stop us from making misjudgements again and again in our daily lives. It’s human nature. Heuristics is a very useful ally to marketers as they can exploit it to “mask a multitude of sins”!

We need to be aware of our own limitations when it comes to dealing with the highly complex. And it doesn’t get more complex than the human body or the digital world of molecular engineering and nano technology. Hence the brief science lesson:

In excess of 99.9% of the “Electromagnetic Spectrum” (below) is outwith our visible spectrum i.e. it is hidden or “invisible” but it is there and it contains information that could, literally, make the difference between life or death! Read more of this post

crowd wisdom needs a new paradigm:: five characteristics of Paradigms


Uncertainty is apparent in every domain…because the realisation, that is gradually seeping into our consciousness, is that much of what we thought we knew…WE DON’T!

Clinging to “the past”, in the form of something that appears “familiar” or that has previously delivered a satisfactory outcome MAY feel like the right thing to do. But, if relying upon homogeneity is the preferred course isn’t that the equivalent of avoiding critical decisions and, merely, adding to uncertainty!?

… paradigms have five important characteristics and implications:

First, in periods of uncertainty, we search for a suitable paradigm that will satisfactorily mitigate the uncertainty (i.e., provide some certainty) and latch onto that paradigm as soon as it is discovered.

Second, because uncertainty leads to unpredictability, we are driven to locate a paradigm that can solve the problem.

Third, precedents or past actions or beliefs focus our attention toward certain solutions, which means we neglect perfectly acceptable paradigms. In organizations, one readily available source of information is to observe how others have dealt with the same issue.

Fourth, when we are uncertain, we imitate others as long as we find ourselves in a homogenous group or believe the other individual has an adequate paradigm to adopt.

Fifth, as long as the chosen paradigm is logically optimal, we continue pursuing a course of action that might be seriously flawed. Why would we pick a solution or course of action that was not the best? Human nature requires us to make some decision when faced with uncertainty. Therefore, an answer that allows us to take some action appears more desirable than inaction.

Underlying our choice of paradigm is our need to make a decision to allow us to continue to function.

via PERCEPTION AND PARADIGMS | PrMC.

Ontonix: Model-free methods – a new frontier of science


ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED in September (and again in November 2010): I thought it worthwhile revisiting this piece by Dr Jacek Marczyk, (Founder & CTO of Ontonix Srl.) as it tied-in with some of my recent thoughts regarding “complexity paralysis”, procrastination and belief systems.

When we make decisions or when we think our brain does not use any equations or math models. Our behaviour is the “fruit” of certain hard-wired instincts and experience that is acquired during our lives and stored as patterns (or attractors). We sort of “feel the answer” to problems no matter how complex they may seem but without actually computing the answer. How can that be? How can a person (not to mention an animal) who has no clue of mathematics still be capable of performing fantastically complex functions? Why doesn’t a brain, with its immense memory and computational power, store some basic equations and formulae and use them when we need to make a decision? Theoretically this could be perfectly feasible. One could learn equations and techniques and store them in memory for better and more sophisticated decision-making. We all know that in reality things don’t work like that. So how do they work? Read more of this post

Presentation: deeper understanding by thinking in systems


“Systems thinking” can help with the understanding of so much in our lives that, we either take for granted, or are content to leave in the “domain” of Academics, experts and specialists. I thought this an excellent presentation on the subject and one that may “whet the appetite” to learn more about the complexity of non-linear systems.

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Business owners, finance and risk professionals who continue to think predominantly in terms of linear processes will only succeed in increasing uncertainty in the environments in which they operate…and beyond!

Why? Because it is much easier to stick with an engrained belief system (Mental Model), particularly one that is widely accepted, understood  and applied than it is to question or challenge the norm. Contrarians are as welcome as whistleblowers in firms with something to hide!

What systems thinking illustrates is that, we need to reconsider much of what we know – or thought we knew – about “risk”. We don’t exist in a “Gaussian world” that fits neatly into a bell curve. The fact is that “outliers” in data cannot be discounted. Rare events do happen and their impact can be disproportionately large. Read more of this post