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Predictable Surprises: The Disasters You Should Have Seen Coming, and How to Prevent Them (Leadership for the Common Good) Hardcover – November 1, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
They have provided a valuable analysis of why these predictable disasters occur and what can be done to prevent them (while recognizing that there are also such things as `unpredictable surprises' which can not be avoided through these processes).
The book is invaluable for the clear way in which it brings the elements together and for the vividness and immediacy of the examples chosen to illustrate the points. The result is a book that is very readable as well as being immediately useful, even if many of the points have also been made elsewhere by other authors. The book provides a template against which organizations can assess their defences against `predictable surprises', and I suspect that every organization will find gaps in its armour when it measures itself against the recommendations in the book.
The authors also use the book to mount a stinging attack on the failures of the American political system (and by extension those of other countries) and the need for fundamental reform. Their attack on the activities of the special interest groups and their direct responsibility for some of the worst disasters that the US has suffered is particularly pointed. One can only hope that the criticisms will be listened to and acted upon, and that politicians as well as business people will read and note them.Read more ›
There are two "Predictable Surprises" that weren't included. First, Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath in New Orleans. Anyone visiting that city and talking with one's professional compatriates could have seen coming what unfolded before our eyes. The warning signs and studies were out there and ignored. That's why those who had a reasonable level of education left town and paid attention to the evacuation notices.
The other predictable surprise that was missed was the sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church. I'm Protestant but know a lot of fine Roman Catholic people. I heard things as long ago as fifty years and knew then that this situation was going to explode in the public domain. "Predictable Surprises" provides the principals that explain why this particular surprise was kept under the radar so long.
An outstanding book that should be read by everyone working in the corporate world, a government agency, a university, the military, or a non-profit organization. Your life may depend on knowing what's in this book.
Flaws exist in other anecdotal support as well. For example, Bazerman and Watkins cite aviation security failures as an occasion when overly discounting the future lead to a predictable surprise. Quick calculation based on figures provided in the book show that, using equal discount rates for the expected future cost of security and the future cost of disaster, even with a disaster probability as high as 10% for any given year, the airlines would be ahead on a cost basis.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 A mom
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