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.

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Differentiating risk and uncertainty [infographic]: : YOUR feedback required


risk horizonI have sat on this for…months because I:

  • cannot make my mind up how happy I am with it,so
  • I have accepted it is best to view it as a collaborative work in progress
  • wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to do with it or how best to share it
  • am frustrated that people in the “risk business” are unwilling to engage in informed discussion about:
    • business – networks – markets as Complex Systems
    • identified RM failings in
      • conventional Risk/Project Management – Corporate/banking/insurance
      • subjective Risk assessment
      • Risk rating
  • am fed up with people, who should know better:
    • being unable to differentiate between risk and uncertainty, or
    • confusing the two
    • failing to recognise the serious implications of treating uncertainty with risk management tools/techniques and
    • making, dangerously naive, assumptions e.g. Read more of this post

The Curly Factor (via Prologue)


Great insight and humour from a man who knows what he is talking about…I just hope people are listening (although I do, sometimes despair!).

The Curly Factor We  talk about “risk intelligence”  and various gurus and philosophers have called it “the capacity to learn about risk from experience and a special kind of intelligence for thinking about risk and uncertainty.  At the core is always the ability to estimate probabilities accurately.  But what if you are just not very smart, maybe even dumb?  Is there hope?  Actually it pays to be ignorant when it comes to dealing with high impact risk.  That’s w … Read More

via Prologue