Our new Forbes piece: Are You Near Your Altamont Moment? How Catastrophic Surprises Transform Business Identities

Our latest post on Forbes is a reflection on the role of catastrophic events in the transformation of people and organizations’ identities, based on the example of the ill-fated Rolling Stones’ Altamont festival in 1969. It is available here.

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Constructing Cassandra in Time magazine

President Bush Tours CIA HeadquartersYesterday the article “The CIA’s Latest Mission: Improving Diversity” appeared in Time magazine.  I was interviewed for the story, so it is gratifying to see that Constructing Cassandra is cited.   Nevertheless, it is a pity that Maya Rhodan, the author of the Time piece, did not explore more fully the link between diversity and effective analysis.

As I stressed to Ms Rhodan and as our book documents, diversity is a practical, not merely a moral issue for intelligence agencies (and for any organization charged with wide-ranging risk analysis).  Racial, ethnic, religious and gender diversity is far from a perfect proxy for cognitive diversity, but homogeneity in these categories assuredly contributes to the “natural selection of accidents” that produces intelligence failures.

Our new Forbes Piece: 1962, The U2, and You: A Risk Management Lesson from the Cold War

Our new Forbes piece shows that by looking at the origins of the Cuban Missile Crisis, one can learn valuable lessons on Risk management. Read it here.

UK Parliamentary Committee echos our findings on diversity

Readers of Constructing Cassandra will remember that our first recommendation for improving intelligence analysis at the Agency was, “Enforce diversity at the CIA for practical, not moral, reasons. We find that the homogeneity of the CIA personnel severely hobbles its central mission” (page 15).

While diversity in terms of gender, race, religion, etc. is not a perfect proxy for cognitive diversity, it certainly plays a role in the sociology of knowledge and the natural selection of accidents that are central to strategic surprises.

It is gratifying, therefore, that  in a report released yesterday, a UK parliamentary committee on intelligence and security urged MI5, MI6 and GCHQ to increase the diversity of their workforce, especially in terms of gender.

You read it here first

You read it here first

Specifically, the report notes, “it is the variety of ideas, the competition, the challenge, the lack of ‘group think’, and the interesting collaborations, that a diverse workforce brings to an organisation. If organisations are only recruiting and promoting one sort of person, then they are only going to get one sort of solution to a problem. Even with some of the brightest and the best, if they are cut from the same cultural cloth, this will inevitably result in a narrower perspective.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!

You can read more about the committee’s recommendations in yesterday’s TelegraphGuardian and on the BBC.

Geopolitics: Shortcuts For Spotting Good And Bad Analysis

If you enjoyed the piece in Forbes earlier in the week about the similarities between poor geopolitical analysis and psychic cold-reading, an expanded version, “Geopolitics: Shortcuts For Spotting Good And Bad Analysis” is now available on Seeking Alpha.

A Slipshod Analysts Best Friend.

A Slipshod Analysts Best Friend.

Geopolitics, Investing, and the Little Book of Psychic Cold Reading

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Milo’s latest advice for investors and business people trying to come to grips with geopolitics is now available on Forbes.com.  It’s called “Geopolitics, Investing and the Little Book of Psychic Cold Reading”.

Geopolitical Alpha – What It Is, And Why You Need It

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Milo has just published the first of a series of articles about Geopolitics and investing on the financial news site Seeking Alpha.  It’s entitled “Geopolitical Alpha – What It Is, And Why You Need It”.

If you want to jump ahead in the series (and explore some of topics the Seeking Alpha series will cover in more depth), see our previous posts, especially Geopolitics and Investing: A Reading List and How to Think like an Intelligence Analyst.

Comments and questions are most welcome either here or on the Seeking Alpha site.