Black Swan

The other day, my daughter asked me to help her draw a swan. I did. She wasn’t happy with the results. Try convincing a 6yo that Black Swans are a thing.

For ages, the world had thought that all swans were white. Until one black swan spotted in Australia, in the 1600s, destroyed an assertion held for centuries.

Introduced by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book The Black Swan, it refers to an event that’s an outlier (can’t imagine it a possibility), carries an extreme impact, and is retrospectively predictable. Over the years, the Black Swan is a metaphor attributed to several historic events- from the invention of the computer, 9/11, the recession to the current pandemic.

A leader faces Black Swan moments frequently. How can we prepare, counter or defend against these?

➡ Leverage the power of information gathering data through connected systems.

➡ Remove blindfolds of past trends and expert opinions

➡ Second guess one’s own intuition, experience, and overconfidence

➡ Seek the big picture. Thinking holistically could help connect the dots.

E.g. Scientists have been warning us of the effects of Global Climate change for five decades. At the micro-level, leveraging information and thinking holistically will help us.

As the world gets more unpredictable, there are more unknown unknowns. While we don’t know what we don’t know, there is power to what we don’t know.

Just because all known swans are white, it doesn’t mean that all swans are white.

What’s been your Black Swan moment? What’s your strategy to mitigate it?

P.S: Later, I saw my daughter draw a blue swan. I didn’t say a word. You never know! 🤷

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