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The Little Book of Big Decision Models by Dr. Jim McGrath

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MODEL 55

TALEB: THE BLACK SWAN MODEL AND UNKNOWABLE THREATS

Use this to remind you that the only thing you can be sure of in business is the unexpected.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Black Swan Model is a metaphor that describes an event so unusual that before it happened it was utterly inconceivable. Unlike unexploded bombs the event is usually something that occurs outside the organisation.

FOUR CRITERIA HAVE TO BE MET FOR AN INCIDENT TO BE A BLACK SWAN EVENT:

1. The event is a stunning surprise/shock to the observers, e.g. the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima .

2. The occurrence produces a major reaction, e.g. ushered in the nuclear age and arms race.

3. After the event people rationalise what has happened and come to believe that it was ...

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