Category Archives: Strategic surprise

Coronavirus: Four Rules for the Decision-Maker to Work with Experts in the Face of an Unprecedented Event

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The situation has become familiar with the coronavirus, and in particular with the controversy over the use of chloroquine: everyone has an opinion and groups are being formed in favor or against it. Yet regularly, people are being called to order by others who demand that only experts should be allowed to talk on issues relating to the management of the epidemy. The message seems to have been heard: for the past three weeks, doctors have been massively present on television sets. The country has become a large proxy medical consultation room. But the question remains: faced with a complex and unprecedented situation such as the coronavirus, who has the right to speak out? To what extent can experts be trusted? More importantly, how can the decision-maker work with them?

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The Coronavirus: How Crises Disrupt our Mental Models and What That Means

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The coronavirus constitutes a major event that completely disrupts world life, rendering all forecasts and plans based on them obsolete within a few weeks. The very nature of a surprise is to bring to light an element of our mental model (deep beliefs that guide our actions) and invalidate it. Our model told us that the world was going in direction A, but it turns out to be going in direction B and we are surprised. This surprise can have more or less serious consequences. Most of the time the reaction will be to dismiss it. When there is a difference between reality and our beliefs, we try at all costs to maintain the latter by inventing all sorts of reasons to minimize the meaning of surprise; it is a matter of integrity because our mental models are constitutive of our deep identity: how we see the world is also how we see ourselves, and how we are in the world. With the coronavirus, learning to manage our mental models has become critical.

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Responding to the Coronavirus Crisis: Three Courses of Action for a CEO

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In these times of coronavirus epidemic, I have the opportunity to talk to people from very different backgrounds (emergency doctors, researchers, self-employed people, entrepreneurs, retirees, business leaders, etc.) to understand how they “live” the current crisis both personally and professionally. From these discussions, I can draw three courses of action that a CEO can usefully adopt in the face of the extreme and unprecedented situation we are experiencing. Continue reading

The Four Things that the Coronavirus Reminds Us About Decision Making in Uncertainty

The unexpected emergence of the coronavirus and its uncertain consequences remind us of four things that we should have known, or that we knew but did not apply about the environment in which we live: the unpredictability of the future, the difference between risk and uncertainty, the non-linearity of the evolution of the world, and the social construction of surprises.

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What the Coronavirus Tells us About the Management of Uncertainty

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My new Forbes piece: Without An Opinion, You’re Just Another Person With Data

My new Forbes piece, written with Milo Jones, is a take on W. Edwards Deming’s words: “Without data you’re just a person with an opinion.” In fact, in a big data world, it might just be the opposite: without an opinion, you’re just a person with data and you are in trouble. Read it here.