Don’t Let Complexity Kill Your Sales Model – Forbes


I’ve tried BUT, grudgingly, accepted that you just can’t show people – who are blinded by their own self-importance, ignorance or whose vision is impaired by the blinkers of an engrained belief-system – stuff that they just don’t want to see!

When things start to head in the wrong direction ‘they’ are the one’s fastest to seek to apportion blame. Whether it is the “market”, the competition, the supply chain, a division, team  or specific individual there has always got to be someone or something to point at to deflect criticism away from them. Strangely this brand of leader are never so quick to acknowledge the impact of factors, often outwith their scope of control, when they add up to success!

These people are business leaders in name or position but NOT in nature. They are able to perpetuate what they have learnt but at the expense of what they should know. They have spent so long reaping the rewards of manipulating systems – to sustain the financial returns the model DEMANDS – that they have become so obsessed with the golden eggs, they forgot to feed the goose!

Business customers increasingly want their vendors to have real expertise in their specific industry or function, such as finance or marketing. They expect vendors to help solve business problems…

via Don’t Let Complexity Kill Your Sales Model – Forbes.

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We are ALL funding an industry’s “prediction addiction”


We “know” (well, understand) that we cannot predict the future – which should be pretty worrying for the financial sector, whose success or failure relies upon the frequency and cost of a variety of events that haven’t yet and may never happen. Except that, the expiry date is approaching, for relying upon a steady stream of (mis)information, discredited economic theories, spending vast amounts on personnel and technology that convey the impression of knowledge.

In the absence of “special powers”, insurers have to rely upon what they ‘know’ i.e. what they have learnt from the impact and frequency of past events, that happened to OTHER, similar, risks!

We now have vast quantities of data, accumulated over many years, from a wide variety of sources. The type of information with which Statisticians, Actuaries, Economists (and Carol Vorderman) can have hours and hours of fun, aided by tried and tested techniques, using  the most sophisticated technology in our history. But it doesn’t change the basic fact that we cannot predict the future although we must learn from past events.

The invaluable lessons for our man-made world are, that:

  • non-linear [real world] interactions CANNOT be modelled – concatenated probabilities are still linear
  • we should question what we think we know – you know what they say about assumptions!
  • we cannot manage risk – we CAN influence what is within the scope of our control
  • conventional tools CANNOT identify, map or measure complexity
  • resilience is a function of complexity
  • resilience (or, per Nassim Taleb “anti-fragility”) should be our primary concern
  • we can learn many more lessons from nature Read more of this post

“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.

http://rs.resalliance.org/2008/10/24/turbulence-and-finance-taleb-and-mandelbrot/

From quantum complexity to monied tossers


Probability and Measure

Probability and Measure (Photo credit: John-Morgan)

I am not expert (in anything!) but, unless I am very much mistaken, these scientists are striving for the simplicity on the other side of complexity that Einstein craved.

When confronted with a complicated system, scientists typically strive to identify underlying simplicity which is then articulated as natural laws and fundamental principles. However, complex systems often seem immune to this approach, making it difficult to extract underlying principles.

Simplicity and quantum complexity.

I particularly like the reference to “these systems have memory and are predictable to some extent; they are more complex than a coin toss”.

Which leads me, nicely, on to a recent paper by Nassim Taleb! “Why We Don’t Know What We Talk About When We Talk About Probability”

Taleb is one of the most well known and widely published, critics of the dangerously “naive” practice of applying raw mathematical probabilities [applied to individual or independent events e.g. the coin toss or spin of a roulette wheel] to the, serious and very real, world of finance and insurance*: where it is not ignorance of the subject that is the problem, so much as the blatant disregard for the medium and long term impact upon corporate profitability and social resilience.

A manifestation of the unacceptable face of “Irresponsible Capitalism”

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Nassim Taleb on “antifragility”:: non-sissy uncertainty


English: Escultura dedicada a la Entropía en l...

Taleb rarely disappoints. And here is a “new” word that most of us may understand better as resilience(ish)! For more reading on the subject I would recommend this piece: Antifragility — or— The Property Of Disorder-Loving Systems but I’m sure you will find the following of interest too.

Here’s a quote from the prologue of Antifragility, which should give you a sense of Taleb’s substance and style: “This book is about how to domesticate, even dominate, even conquer, the impenetrable, the unseen, the non-understood, the opaque, the perplexing, and the inexplicable. Wind extinguishes a candle and energizes fire. Likewise with randomness: you want to use it, not hide from it. You want to be the fire and wish for the wind. This summarizes my non-sissy attitude toward randomness and uncertainty.”

via Non-Sissy Uncertainty: Why I Inflict Nassim “Black Swan” Taleb on My Students | Cross-Check, Scientific American Blog Network.