Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dealing with risk and uncertainty

Times are uncertain. Risks seem high. We may feel that the price of missteps is high; we know it's hard to decide what steps to take.

In situations such as this, how do you make decisions in and for your organization? How do you plan effective actions? How do you solve the inevitable problems that arise?

The German psychologist Dietrich Dörner, author of The Logic of Failure, has made a career of studying why people make mistakes and what we can do to improve. One of his key pieces of advice is to use computer simulation to get insight about the situations we face so that we can make better decisions in real life.

Perhaps today's uncertainties are your signal that the time is right to apply more systemic approaches in your work and to ground your planning, problem solving, and decision making with simulation that takes into account factors important to your business. Perhaps it's time to test and rehearse your plans before you implement them.

That's what we've been discussing here, and that's how I help others. If you're concerned that your standard approach to business may need augmentation in today's world, perhaps I can help you, too. Drop me an email or give me a call. There's no obligation—only opportunity.

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Blogger WalterRSmith said...


I just stumbled across your blog. I'm curious if you're familiar with Dave Snowden's work (e.g., Cynefin), and what you think about it.

29 October, 2008 08:42  
Blogger Bill Harris said...

Walter, welcome. I am a bit familiar with Cynefin; my colleague Bob Williams has recommended several times I learn more. I've mostly read (and reread) his IBM Systems Journal article, IIRC. All I can say so far is that it seems like a useful framework for thinking about things. It's still on my reading list to study more and to try to apply. What are your thoughts?

I see in your bio you have been influenced by Gary Klein. Take a look at A somewhat unified view of decision making and its links; I'd be curious in your thoughts. Maybe you'd like Decision making: a quiz, too.

29 October, 2008 09:14  

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