Essay

Changes Ahead.jfif

NATURE OF CHANGE

(January 2018)

There is one reason for you to visit this site repeatedly and more important for you to subscribe to the forthcoming blog. You cannot manage change unless you understand the nature change itself. What is the “Next Big Thing?” What causes it? How can you anticipate it?

 

Most important of all: How Can You Profit By It? It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do (profit being made financially, politically, socially, etc.), your very survival depends on you anticipating change. History is literally littered with people just like you who suffered or profited by anticipating, ignoring or being oblivious to change. You could have been a Jew in Nazi Germany (political), or a homosexual in the 1990s (pandemic), or an investor in any economic upturn or downturn (financial). Change can be a minor one at your workplace or major one that is worldwide. In either case, the Book of Change is your crystal ball into your future.

Change events. There are three kinds of change events for you to manage. I like to call them The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. These names are taken from the 1966 cult favorite spaghetti Western starring Clint Eastwood. These rather colorful euphemisms stand for what I more mundanely call the Predicted, the Predictable and the Unpredictable. I came across these three concepts after reading two very different authors, as part of my doctorate research, who independently came to the same conclusion. One is Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the author of The Black Swan, who gained fame by prophesizing and capitalizing from the financial Crisis of 2007. The other was Donald H. Rumsfeld, who was the Secretary of State to both President Ford and President Bush. With the latter he played a central role in the invasion of Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003).

What fascinated me was that two men, from such different backgrounds, came to the similar conclusions about the nature of change. Taleb would call them The White Swan, The Grey Swan and The Black Swan. Rumsfeld would call them the Known-Known (Predicted), the Known-Unknown (Predictable), and the Unknown-Unknown (Unpredictable). I hasten to add that while Taleb was lauded as a financial genius for uttering such phrases, Rumsfeld was derided as a political eccentric for saying the same thing. The difference being that one man made a lot of money in the process and the other lost public confidence in the process. As a doctorate researcher searching for some answers, I was amazed that they both agreed on the nature of change. What was even more amazing was they had similar ideas on how to manage it.

CHANGE IS DRIVEN BY

 

Unpredictable Existential “Black Swan” Events (No Knowledge/Highly Improbable/Massive Impact):

  • Human diseases (Pandemic – AIDS, Ebola, Zika, H1N1, SARS)

  • Human events (assassinations, trade wars, inventions)

  • On earth (volcanoes, weather, earthquakes)

  • Off earth (meteorites)

 

Predicted  "White Swan" Events (No Knowledge Gaps/High Certainty/Impact easily estimated):

  • Political elections (cyclical)

  • Economic recessions (cyclical)

  • Social/cultural changes (1960s)

  • Technological

  • Wars

Predictable "Grey Swan" Events (Knowledge Gaps Exist/High Probability/Impact can easily cascade):

  • Inflation/Deflation

  • Global Warming

  • Rising National Debt

  • Rise of Populism

 

The Who Predict Such Events:

  • Science fiction writers

  • Futurists

  • Philosophers

  • Theorists

  • Economists

  • Religion leaders

  • Prophets (real and fake)

(Editorial note: This essay was a precusor to the "Pandemic" of COVID-19. If this essay had been taken seriously, then the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as any other global emergency management group, should have been read for COVID-19).

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