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Can you learn to navigate uncertainty?

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https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200619-why-you-are-better-at-predicting-the-future-than-you-think

bbc.com

Can you learn to navigate uncertainty?
When we asked our readers to predict the outcomes of key moments over the last year, it revealed some surprising lessons about how to predict the future.

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The Self-Perception of Experts

The Self-Perception of Experts

New research on the accuracy of future predictions by people has some interesting findings:

  • Experts, largely considered an authority, fared poorly than the novices, due to their over...

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Facing Change: Millennials Vs Boomers

Past experience, which many experts think helps them to better understand the world, surprisingly does not improve the ability to predict the future. The research data showed accuracy levels of the...

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Humility

Working with an open mind, ready to dive into unfamiliar territory and learning new things, makes the entire exercise stress-free and rewarding experience. This state of mind, along with basic humi...

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Disagreements Are Good

While we talk to people we disagree with, without getting personal, we tend to learn new insights and ways of thinking.

In contrast, if we only expose ourselves to people who think ...

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Simulating a crisis

Simulating a crisis

Modeling systems are used to provide a better understanding of a bad situation and how to possibly prevent it.

Groups of researchers, teams of engineers and companies are d...

Why we use models

  • A model is just a series of calculations that abstractly represent some systems in the real world. We use models all the time.
  • We may work out the routes we could take to get to work at a specific time of the day. We use past data to make predictions about what we can expect in the future in a given set of circumstances.
  • As the volume of data and the number of variables increase, the computational task would increase.
  • Powerful models aim to forecast inherently unpredictable events and make use of machine learning to look for patterns in the data that would otherwise be missed.

The accuracy of a model

You can never accurately predict what's going to happen. Some efforts come close.

For example, models looking at the weather can achieve more than 90% accuracy. But crises are about change, and a model working from historical data may miss a dramatic and new change.

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John Green, Looking for Alaska

“Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia.”

John Green, Looking for Alaska

We use our memories to imagine the future

We predict what the future will look like by using our memories. This is how actions we do repeatedly become routine. For example, you have an ideas of what your day will look like at work tomorrow based on what your day was like today, and all the other days you’ve spent working.

But memory also helps people predict what it will be like to do things they haven’t done before.

Past and future for amnesia patients

An evidence that memory and imagining the future might go hand in hand comes from research related to amnesia patients. Studies show that when they lose their pasts, it seems they lose their futures as well.

Functional MRI scans made possible for researchers to discover that many of the same brain structures are involved in both remembering and forecasting.

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How leaders cope with uncertainty

Uncertainty is always there. The degree of uncertainty can rise and fall.

Leaders, being human, also have difficulty coping with uncertainty. When they receive confusing information, they te...

Heuristics during periods of uncertainty

During periods of heightened uncertainty, leaders reflexively reduce investment, stop hiring, slash marketing, refrain from entering new markets, or stop making decisions.

Although understandable, acting in a pro-cyclical manner can be counterproductive. It can leave companies poorly positioned to benefit from the next stage of the cycle.

Attributes to succeed in uncertainty

Organizations should be inclined toward action. As a baseline, companies must strive to be fit for growth. This can be done by aligning costs with priorities and strategy, investing in varied capabilities, and using traditional and digital levers to execute.

They must regularly engage in scenario planning with an array of options. They must build the capacity to be agile. They must learn to become more resilient to withstand strong external forces and quickly recover from setbacks.

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