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The Gray Rhino: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore Hardcover – April 5, 2016
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"This helpful guide to getting out of your own way long enough to see the rhino charging over the hill will be useful reading for managers, entrepreneurs, and risk takers of all stripes." --Publishers Weekly
"A valuable guide for individuals and policymakers who want to act when they see the lights of an oncoming train." --Kirkus
"Even more important than a Black Swan is a Gray Rhino: the highly probable, high impact event we often fail to act on. This book offers some easy tips on how to move to action and create competitive advantage."--Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever
"Why on earth would we need a book to tell us to pay attention to and prepare for obvious, high probability events? Because we resolutely avoid and deny what is right under our noses. The Gray Rhino explains why and lays out a valuable set of steps to become more resilient and realistic about the threats and challenges that will redefine our world."--Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO of New America and author of Unfinished Business and The Idea that is America
"Michele Wucker provides an updated assessment of the challenges that confront society, that need to be addressed, yet we ignore. Public officials would serve us well by getting busy addressing the Gray Rhinos that are out there, rather than waiting for the next predictable surprise." --Max Bazerman, Straus Professor Harvard Business School, Co-Director, Center for Public Leadership and author of The Power of Noticing
"Michele Wucker is right. Often we can see crises coming: climate change, terrorism, financial crashes. Yet, we fail to act. This valuable book explains why. It’s a must read for leaders of all organisations, public and private as we prepare for the inevitable challenging times."--Kishore Mahbubani, Dean, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (National University of Singapore), and author of The Great Convergence
"In a lucid and accessible style, Michele Wucker forces us to see the knowns we have been treating as unknowns, and teaches us to see opportunities in crisis. This book is a useful primer for rethinking how we manage everything from our personal life to the global economy." --Parag Khanna, author of Connectography and How to Run the World
“Equally vital for companies and countries, [The Gray Rhino] serves as a critical reorientation of crisis management strategy and policymaking.” ―Ian Bremmer, President of Eurasia Group and author of The J Curve, The Fat Tail, and Every Nation for Itself
“The world urgently needs a risk-management paradigm shift. This book makes a compelling case for fixing the very risks we create, a bit more every day, or decide to ignore. When your eyes cross those of a Rhino, it's too late.” ―Professor Erwann Michel-Kerjan, Executive Director, Wharton Business School Risk Center
“The Gray Rhino offers strategies for dealing with the biggest and most dangerous weak spot for organizations, companies, and nations: the willful failure of business and policy leaders to perceive warning signals... This important, insightful, and original book will be a must read for global decision makers and thought leaders.” ―William Saito, CEO of Intecur and author of The Team: Solving the Biggest Problem in Japan
“As Michele Wucker warns us: It's not if; it's when. This is a book for our time, when we face multiple, evident existential threats... This book reminds us that denial will not save us, and provides strategies for navigating a way forward to survival by ferreting out the opportunities born of crisis.” ―Mira Kamdar, author of Planet India: The Turbulent Rise of the Largest Democracy and the Future of Our World
“If Black Swans leave one feeling helpless, Gray Rhinos teach us that we do have the power to act. In this original proposal Michele Wucker alerts us to how important it is to wake up to what's looming before us and make good decisions about how to respond in time.” ―Dr. Noreena Hertz, author of Eyes Wide Open: How to Make Smart Decisions in a Confusing World
“The Gray Rhino should be required reading for decision makers in business and policy. Drawing on many examples from politics and business, social and economic policy, Michele Wucker provides amazing insights into how organizations can define and confront their obvious but neglected risks. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will have many Gray Rhinos if we don’t act in time to create the necessary principles and rules to direct technology and progress in a way which deflates the risks but uses fully all the great potential.”-- Professor Klaus Schwab, Chairman, World Economic Forum and author of The Fourth Industrial Revolution
About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.06 pounds
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 125005382X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250053824
- Dimensions : 6.36 x 1.15 x 9.67 inches
- Publisher : St. Martin's Press (April 5, 2016)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #367,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Taken as a whole, however, this book is really an instructional manual for how leaders at every level can make better decisions—the kind of decisions that produce positive and sustainable outcomes in the long run. Chapters 5-9, in particular, focus on what actions we can take to recognize and accurately evaluate risks, and to effectively address them before they become newspaper headlines (think: data theft, collapsed bridges, and the global financial system…).
The text is also unpretentious and easy to read, and Wucker’s conversational tone and style makes even the most complex ideas easily comprehensible, and interesting to read about. Also, readers who are pressed for time will appreciate the “Chapter Takeaways” at the end of the main chapters (These nuggets alone would provide a solid framework for an MBA-level course at a top university…)
All in all, this is a smart book that’s a quick and interesting read, and that will actually help you to make better decisions. Definitely adding this one to my collection of high quality leadership resources.
The Gray Rhino, a unique species of rhino created for this book, is a powerful metaphor for our life’s decisions in the face of obvious threats. The image of a two-ton animal about to charge at me was enough to take note of Michele Wucker’s experiences, stories, and analogies.
The framework, influenced by Elizabth Kubler Ross’s five stages of grief, outlines the stages of response to a threat from a Gray Rhino: denial, muddling, diagnosis/bargaining, panic, and action/trampling. The author does an artful job sharing stories about business, weather, the economy, aging infrastructure, and health scares, among others.
While examples like climate change, the global financial crisis, and recurring cyber security threats demonstrated the downside of denial, I quickly saw broader applications for the model. Career choice and career management, for example, are riddled with denial and muddling (kicking the can down the road). Just like the stories about collapsed bridges and data hacking of companies like Sony, there is the parallel story for individuals who ignore the debilitating effects of staying at the wrong job.
With a starting point of situational awareness, the model is an effective analysis of how to identify a looming problem, while offering concrete suggestions to take action.
I was surprised to find my topic, the gender gap, to be categorized as a Meta-Rhino but grateful that it wasn't in the Conundrum and Gordian Knot category. The book includes a multitude of global stories and real-world examples which Michele uses to explain our Gray Rhino thinking and offer advice for those who wish to no longer be trampled.
Top reviews from other countries
- Threats, such as pandemics, bridges in need of repair, Global Warming or heart failure because of over-eating, are likely and obvious threats ("Gray Rhinos")
- Avoid group think (variety of people/sexes/personalities are better at generating different ideas, or spotting problems, so yes to variety). Having a range of opinions/observations will help avoid availability bias (taking whatever little information you have and overvalue it, since you have little else to go on)
- Optimism bias (people prefer accepting statistics that make them happy as likely correct, but prefer doubting ones that would cause unhappiness: Imagine having to guess your IQ, then being delivered some test results. If this IQ was better than your guess, you'd gladly accept it, if lower, you'd doubt it!). Human tendency to doubt inconvenient truths makes people susceptible to organizations, that sow doubt: Tobacco industry getting people to doubt if cigarettes really cause cancer in the 1950s, polluting industries sowing doubt about acid rain and global warming, etc.
- Denial as a defense mechanism: As a first phase in response to a threat this allows us to deal with shock without incapacitating us
- If you’re not sure how seriously to take a piece of information, consider the source.
- "When politicians cynically whip up fury over immigrants, or social issues on which reasonable people can disagree, or over geopolitical foes, you should ask: What is it that they don’t want you to see instead?"
- Sometimes bad things happen, because people prefer to procrastinate, even as they perceive a threat. Warning others of something, that would require people to take action/effort/cost and then this prediction not coming to pass, would be uncomfortable for us. Being wrong in the crows is easier.
- framing problems in manageable, relevant sizes can help to give people the confidence to believe that taking action to take on even big problems is worth it.
- reward employees for addressing problems early on and to penalize them if they get out of hand. Increase rewards for preventing problems in order to remove some of the obstacles to acting in time in the face of likely disaster.
- Women respond to stress by becoming more conservative, men tend to take more risks