Category Archives: decision making

Building the Organization for Uncertainty: Lessons from The German Army’s Prewar Leadership Model

[version en français ici]

How can an organization not only protect itself from uncertainty, but more importantly take advantage of it? The question is a hot one these days. It preoccupies many strategists, jumping from one crisis to another in a world that has become highly unstable and full of surprises. One source of inspiration, perhaps unexpected, is the German army, which built, from the end of the 19th century, a very powerful leadership model from which we can learn a lot.

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How declining organizations get used to mediocrity

[version en Français ici]

Companies rarely collapse all at once. The collapse is often only the visible phase of a decline that started long before and developed insidiously. Like the famous frog that does not react when the temperature of the water in which it is placed rises, this slowness makes it more difficult to react: the signs of decline seem disparate and it is difficult to link them together to build a picture of danger. At the heart of this difficulty is the silence about the situation within the organization, and the tacit acceptance of mediocrity.

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Challenging Cassandra – The two risks of prediction for the decision-maker

We live in a time of great uncertainty, where many predictions and strongly held beliefs have been brutally disproved by the facts, especially in the last three years. And yet, we continue to make predictions. This seems rational: we want to protect ourselves against bad surprises and prepare for the worst. But this preparation comes at a significant cost.

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Why you have to be a conservative to innovate and (really) change the world

We often think that to innovate, we must start from scratch. Yet, all innovators are “dwarfs on the shoulders of giants”, as the philosopher Bernard de Chartres said. Far from refusing reality, let alone ignoring it, innovators start by accepting it, and then transforming it.

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What A Dead Economist Can Tell Us about Risk, Uncertainty, Profit… and Ourselves

What can we learn from the book of an almost unknown economist, published exactly one century ago? A lot. Is it useful to us in the face of current issues? Yes, very. It turns out that Risk, Uncertainty and Profit, published by Frank Knight in 1921, is an essential book, even if it is difficult to read. It is the first book to really define uncertainty, and to show what this notion implies in decision making. And in doing so, it also tells us a lot about who we are by revealing us as fundamentally speculative.

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The public decision-maker in uncertainty: towards the technical democracy

The generalized uncertainty in which our societies are immersed, combined with their growing complexity, undermines the authority of experts whose knowledge is more easily questioned. This is particularly true for public decision-makers, who are now faced with systematic challenges to their decisions, whatever the field. Understanding the causes and stakes of what some call “technical democracy”, but also its potential dangers, is becoming essential.

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