What we’re reading: factulness, bad blood, human risk …

What we're reading header


I am currently reading Factfulness by the late Hans Rosling – and the very current Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Rönnlund. It has some interesting insights topical for Ethical Business Practice.

They’re about blame and urgency (see chapters 9-10).  For example: “…blame drives us to attribute more power and influence to individuals than they deserve, for bad or for good.”

This is why we look at the whole system in Ethical Business Practice. We suggest root cause analysis is necessary to understand the role of not only various individuals – and also the system itself in creating the misconduct. If we just blame the individual, we may never learn the wider lessons.

Urgency is another issue, because it drives poor decision making (which relates to Daniel Kahneman’s work on Systems 1 & 2 – in Thinking, Fast and Slow.  If we make decisions purely with the intuitive, quick System 1 only we may not make the best decisions as we will not have used System 2 to do a proper analysis.  This could lead us to miss the ethical dimension of a situation. Other evidence comes from the famous 1973 Princeton Theological Seminar’s Good Samaritan Experiment. When we are in a hurry, we may  not always do the right thing because we are too focused and not considering all of the possibilities.

Bad Blood, Secrets and Lies

The other book I read in this period was Bad Blood, Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Start Up about the incredible saga of Theranos. I will comment on this in an upcoming blog, because it is shocking how many people were taken in despite clear signs that something was amiss. There are many lessons about toxic organisational culture that could be learned as well.

Human Risk 

Finally, I would highly recommend that you subscribe to the new behavioural science Human Risk Newsletter from Christian Hunt.

In the first edition he mentions the fence paradox, coined by Dr Pasquale Cirillo. Dr. Cirillo uses a cartoon to illustrate his point that “many financial regulations give us a false sense of security”. As he points out, in order to avoid risk, we build fences but it is these very fences that attract more people to see then view because we feel safe. Paradoxically, more people may then be injured that would have been if the danger had been apparent. I think this partly explains why compliance programmes so often do not work.

Some food for thought? I hope so.

Got a reading or listening recommendation? Do share. 

An excerpt from AretéWork Quarterly – you can read the full issue here – and subscribe below:

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