This is a Black Swan! – Podcast

Do Black Swans exist?  Yup, in real life and as a metaphor for events that come to us as a complete surprise.  Google the words ‘Black Swan’ and you will read ‘an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalised after the fact with the benefit of hindsight.’

Given the ‘Black Swan’ that has hit us world-wide over these past months, I thought it would be timely if we had a chat with my friend Doug Boebinger.  Doug was a contributor to the original version of “The Keys to Our Success’.  His chapter: “Hope for the Best.  Plan for the Worst”.  This is a great analysis of an often-neglected artifact of all our projects.  And now all our lives.

My ‘ah ah moment’ in this discussion?  Despite their color, Black Swans are not always negative.



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4 thoughts on “This is a Black Swan! – Podcast”

  1. Walter Washburn, PMP

    David: This situation, in my opinion, is NOT a Black Swan. What we have here is a KNOWN risk where people, including those in power, either chose to be ignorant, or chose to ignore the risk. We are paying the price of being unprepared. This is a case of incompetent risk management. My rationale? Look at books such as The Hot Zone by Richard Preston, or China Syndrome by Karl Greenfield, or The Band Played On by Doug Shiltz. There are many more excellent non-fiction publications in recent years. Note too, how in the USA, President Obama thought enough about the consequences of pandemic risk to have established an office in the White House dedicated to preparation. Also note that President Obama provided a risk assessment and a simulation exercise with the Trump administration during the transition of power – All of this to no avail. Ignorance and irresponsibility do not make a Black Swan.

    1. I would submit for your consideration, Walter that this is precisely a Black Swan event and I would go further to state in the hindsight of the future, it will be noted as the most impactful in history to this point. The event is not the virus. That was entirely predictable and hence by definition not a Black Swan. The aspect of this that makes it a Black Swan is the reaction of the political/media class. This in no way could have been foreseen. To further add strength to this argument for a Black Swan, is the impact of the reaction. It already is well understood that this was a gross over reaction and it will only be better understood to be so in the future when examined in whole.

    2. Jules Batson MCPM, PMP, CSM

      Doug: I concur with Walter’s assessment, this is definitely NOT a Black Swan, however I would go further and highlight that there is clearly a bias towards self interest by the incumbent leadership team.

      What happened to servant leadership? The best interest of the many is being put at risk for the misplaced benefit of the few.

      More than ever we need moral, ethical, collaborate leadership.

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