Predictable Surprises: The Disasters You Should Have Seen Coming, and How to Prevent Them (Leadership for the Common Good)

You and Your Organization Are at Risk

Were the earth-shattering events of September 11, 2001, predictable, or were they a surprise? What about the collapse of Enron in bankruptcy and scandal? Max H. Bazerman and Michael D. Watkins argue that they were actually “predictable surprises”-disastrous examples of the failure to recognize potential tragedies and actively work to prevent them. Disturbingly, this dangerous phenomenon has its roots in universal human and organizational tendencies that leave no individual or company immune.

In this riveting book, Bazerman and Watkins, leading experts in managerial decision making, show that many disasters are preceded by clear warning signals that leaders either miss-or purposely ignore. They explain the cognitive, organizational, and political biases that make predictable surprises so common in business and society, and outline six danger signals that suggest a predictable surprise may be imminent. They also provide a systematic framework that leaders can use to recognize and prioritize brewing disasters and mobilize their organizations to prevent them.

Filled with vivid accounts of predictable surprises in business and society across public and private sectors, this book highlights a phenomenon that holds grave consequences-and challenges leaders to find the courage to act before it’s too late.

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