Tag Archives: Use of analogs

Five ways to use history well

I have discussed the topic of the use of history for decision makers in a previous post about Richard Neustadt and Ernest May‘s analog framework. Historian Francis Gavin gave a very interesting speech for the Longnow foundation on the same question, but from a different angle. Gavin lays out five key concepts which, if properly understood and employed, should provide a firmer grasp on how historical analysis can be of benefit to decision makers.   I would also argue that they can benefit not just the policymakers but also the public at large.  These concepts are vertical history, horizontal history, chronological proportionality, unintended consequences and policy insignificance.

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The use of history for business decision makers: Neustadt and May’s analogs framework

One of the characteristics of a disruption is that one has to deal with a new situation for the first time. Hence, almost by definition, one doesn’t have any prior experience to draw upon, and often no existing framework to use.

Does that mean that radically new situations must be dealt with without referring to the past experience? In their book, “Thinking in time”, Richard E. Neustadt and Ernest R. May think not. They argue that there is always an analog, ie a past situation decision makers can refer to, but on the conditions that the similarities and differences with the present situation be clearly understood.

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