• Paul Barnett

Mapping the Radically Uncertain Future & Avoiding Predictable Surprises

Updated: Dec 5, 2020



There are times when it seems several thinkers are coming to the same conclusions at almost the same time. A few books are published on related themes. Then the same theme starts being talked about by speakers on the speaker-circuit.


As I have reported previously, in the second half of 2019 I started making plans for a research-based “inquiry into the nature and causes of predictable surprises and how we might avoid them”. Because so often what are presented as surprises in the media were predictable and were predicted. But the predictions get ignored in acts of Wilful Blindness. Stories of such incidents have been wonderfully told by Margaret Heffernan in her book of that name.


The topic should be of great concern to any director or executive who regards themselves a professional and strategic thinker. Predictable Surprises cost lives and kill businesses in the most extreme cases — The 9/11 Terrorist Attacks, the Deepwater Horizon Crisis etc. But the extreme cases are just the ‘tip of the iceberg’. Most do not hit the headlines in such a big way, but as the PwC Crisis Survey 2019 shows most large companies can expect to experience one a crisis every year. The cumulative impact of them on the economy is massive. Read the Full Article and consider how Critical Systems Thinking and Practice might offer the much action to address the problems.

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