Bazerman and Watkins, faculty at the Harvard Business School, define predictable surprises as "an event or set of events that take an individual or group by surprise, despite prior awareness of all of the information necessary to anticipate the events and their consequences." They cite as examples the tragedy of 9/11 and Enron's collapse. Insisting theirs is not 20/20 hindsight, they explain how many disasters are preceded by clear warning signals that leaders miss or ignore. Characteristics of predictable surprises include when leaders know a problem exists and that problem does not solve itself and gets worse, the human tendency to maintain the status quo, and the reality of a small vocal minority (special interests) that benefit from inaction. Future predictable surprises include government subsidies, global warming, government's ignoring future financial obligations in medical costs and retirement commitments, and the large obligations airlines have in frequent flyer miles. This is an excellent book for library patrons in both the public and private sectors. Mary Whaley
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Max Bazerman is a professor at HBS and is a huge name in negotiation and decision-making. He has written classic books on these subjects (Negotiating Rationally, Judgment in Managerial Decision-Making), and his name lends significant credibility to the authors' argument. Michael Watkins is a proven author with HBSP and has become a recognized expert on leadership issues. His previous books--Right from the Start (HBSP, 1999) with Dan Ciampa and The First 90 Days (HBSP 2003) have sold over 32,000 and 43,000 copies, respectively to date.
At times a bit repetitive but overall very informative. I borrowed the book from my dad a while back, and just now got really into it and have not been able to set it down. Read morePublished on June 7, 2013 by Mr. Cheeks
This book underscores how well-wishing and positive thinking are not effective ways of handling risks of business. Read morePublished on August 11, 2008 by Paula R. Wiley
The book jumps around but makes clear and valid points. A great eye opener! I would recommend this to students, leaders, informed citizens...just about anybody. Read morePublished on August 27, 2007 by Butler
In a world ruled by probability, all predictions eventually come true (no matter how impossible.) That said, ignoring the obvious can be disastrous, but the authors methods for... Read morePublished on May 10, 2005 by Richard Channing