22 years ago, on September 11, 2001, the world watched in horror as two planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York in one of the most spectacular terrorist attacks ever. Behind this immense tragedy, whose geopolitical consequences are still being felt today, lies the failure of the American intelligence apparatus, and the CIA in particular. Despite all the information at its disposal, the CIA failed to anticipate the attack. What explains this failure?
The Covid-19 epidemics constitutes a major event that completely disrupted 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 models and invalidate it. In short, crises disrupt our mental models. Because a disruption is a process, the effects unfold progressively, on many dimensions, and over a long period.(more…)
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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. (more…)
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.
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.