Predictable Surprises: The Disasters You Should Have Seen Coming, and How to Prevent Them

Overview

Even the best-run companies can be blindsided by disasters they should have anticipated. These predictable surprises range from financial scandals to operational disruptions, from organizational upheavals to product failures.

In Predictable Surprises, Max Bazerman and Michael Watkins show you how to minimize your risk by understanding and lowering the psychological, organizational, and political barriers preventing you from foreseeing calamity. The authors also offer powerful ...

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Overview

Even the best-run companies can be blindsided by disasters they should have anticipated. These predictable surprises range from financial scandals to operational disruptions, from organizational upheavals to product failures.

In Predictable Surprises, Max Bazerman and Michael Watkins show you how to minimize your risk by understanding and lowering the psychological, organizational, and political barriers preventing you from foreseeing calamity. The authors also offer powerful tools-including incentives and formal coalitions-that business leaders can use to detect and fend off threats invisible to insiders.

Failure to recognize what's coming exposes your company to predictable surprises. Given the stakes involved, this book allows you to focus on the right problems and to act before it is too late.

About the Author:
Max H. Bazerman is the Jesse Isidor Straus Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He is also formally affiliated with the Kennedy School of Government, the Harvard Psychology Department, and the Program on Negotiation

About the Author:
Michael D. Watkins is Professor of General Management at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland, and confounder of Genesis Advisers, a leadership development company

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Editorial Reviews

Financial Times
"[S]ubstantial...leaving the reader no excuse not to deal with all those foreseeable, predictable, avoidable surprises."
1 December, 2004
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
According to Harvard Business Professor Max H. Bazerman and strategy consultant Michael D. Watkins, "predictable surprises" are events that catch leaders off guard even though they had all the information necessary to anticipate them, and write that they represent a pervasive failure of leadership that holds grave consequences. In Predictable Surprises, the authors identify six danger signals and describe a prescriptive framework that aims to help leaders respond quickly and effectively to prevent disasters. Copyright © 2005 Soundview Executive Book Summaries
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781422122877
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
  • Publication date: 4/15/2008
  • Series: Leadership for the Common Good
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 835,430
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

1 What is a Predictable Surprise?: A Preview 1

Pt. I Prototypes of Predictable Surprises 13

2 September 11: The Costs of Ignoring a Predictable Surprise 15

3 The Collapse of Enron and the Failure of Auditor Independence 43

Pt. II Why Don't We Act on What We Know? 69

4 Cognitive Roots: The Role of Human Biases 71

5 Organizational Roots: The Role of Institutional Failures 95

6 Political Roots: The Role of Special-Interest Groups 121

Pt. III Preventing Predictable Surprises 153

7 Recognition: Identifying Emerging Threats Earlier 157

8 Prioritization: Focusing on the Right Problems 179

9 Mobilization: Building Support for Preventative Action 203

10 Future Predictable Surprises 225

Appendix A General Accounting Office Reports Warning of Aviation Security Weaknesses, 1994-2001 259

Appendix B Ten Elements of an Effective Crisis-Response Plan 263

Notes 267

Further Reading 301

Index 303

About the Authors 319

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