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Blindsided - How to Avoid Making Bad Decisions


Keith Appleton - Expert Author

Personal Business Skills Articles
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 21 Febuary 2012

'Blindsided' examines some of the most dramatic crises of recent times and tells you how to avoid the next big disaster that will invariably head your way.

It will be interesting to see if the worlds financial markets view the 130 billion euro (£110 billion) Greek bailout as a 'significant step' towards resolving the eurozone crisis in a deal that will see the country reduce its debts from 160 per cent of GDP to around 120 per cent by 2020.

You would hope that as management thinking is about seeking to rationalize the business process, informed by decisions based on proven facts and data to reduce risk and improve profitability, that success would be likely. However, if this model works so well how come we were ‘Blindsided’ and didn’t see the huge banking collapse coming in the first place?

I Didn’t See That Coming

In his new book, ‘Blindsided,’ Jonathan Gifford takes a compelling look at some of the most dramatic business, social and economic crises of recent years: from the Dot-Com Bubble to the Credit Crunch, from the collapse of Enron to worldwide riots and revolutions.

As a businessman, historian and author, Gifford is well placed to analyse the human aspects of leadership and management. In ‘Blindsided’ he demonstrates that organisations and governments are far from rational, often unpredictable and make decisions where logic is replaced by emotion, split-second calculations and meaningless context. We then rationalise these decisions to suit, and as a result can be ‘Blindsided’ with tragic consequences. Examples include the rash Dot-Com investments of the 1990s, to the madness of unregulated derivatives of mind-boggling complexity in the American sub-prime market that led to the current global economic downturn.

Man Made Disasters

Due to the human capacity for self-delusion, Gifford explains how we are caught up in booms and then ruefully contemplate the aftermath. We develop theories about free markets and social systems and are amazed when these turn out to be flawed. Unexpected consequences have included the Arab Spring turmoil in North Africa, to current unrest in Greece.

It is even more depressing when you consider our frailties from an historical perspective: from the Oklahoma land rushes of the late nineteenth century, the ‘Dust Bowl’ ecological disaster of America’s Great Plains in the 1930s, several flu epidemics and more cases of civil unrest than I care to mention. You end up shaking your head and muttering ‘will we ever learn.’

Disaster Management

Gifford argues that to succeed we need to plan for the unexpected, allow customers to act irrationally and build human tolerance into business plans. History has taught us that sane and successful people can be swept up by euphoria, are prone to mass delusion and can succumb to greed. In fact many G-20 policies continue to ignore the reality of changing weather patterns and dwindling resources.

The book’s conclusion is challenging and claims that we may be ‘hardwired to fail’ citing recent developments in psychology and neuroscience to confirm that our decision-making process is a long way from the model of calm and rational thought that we fondly believe it be. Certainly when reading ‘Blindsided’ I remembered that Winston Churchill once said ‘those who fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.’ Unfortunately, due to human nature and that economies move in cycles of boom and bust, I doubt this will change.

About the Author

Keith Appleton JP, BA(Hons), N.Dip.M, MInstLM has over 15 years experience within the public and third sector developing high performing teams in a managerial and strategic leadership role. This is underpinned by his academic experience as a visiting lecturer and membership of the UK Institute of Leadership & Management. Article original published on Suite101.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2012-03-06 11:17:20 in Personal Articles

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