Why do we often neglect big problems, like the financial crisis and climate change, until it’s too late? Policy strategist Michele Wucker urges us to replace the myth of the “black swan” — that rare, unforeseeable, unavoidable catastrophe — with the reality of the “gray rhino,” the preventable danger that we choose to ignore. In this TED Talk, she shows why predictable crises catch us by surprise — and lays out some signs that there may be a charging rhino in your life right now. This talk was presented at an official TED conference February 1, 2019, and was featured by editors on the TED.com home page as a Talk of the Day May 1, 2019.
Predictions may be imperfect, but we do have tools at hand to help us think about what developments are most likely to sideswipe our plans. Every year, analysts compile lists of top risks for investors and policy makers.
Combined and filtered, they make for a strong comprehensive list of gray rhinos that provides a wider, balanced, global view of the year’s top risks than any individual ranking can on its own.
Most of these lists appear in the first quarter. In the months since, the momentous Brexit vote, conclusion of the U.S. primary season, and evolving economic picture make it worth revisiting them as the summer winds up and markets head into the typically volatile last part of the year.
My August 11th article on Seeking Alpha lists the Top Five Gray Rhinos of 2016 in order of importance, based on the frequency and rank of their mentions earlier in the year. I’ve updated each with my view on how the outlook has evolved over the course of the year.
When I was in New York City recently, I sat down with Dan Gross to record the inaugural “Talk My Book” podcast on strategy+business, talking about how to avoid gray rhinos. Listen HERE.
Was the Brexit vote a highly improbable black swan or an obvious gray rhino?
Read my thoughts on Seeking Alpha July 1, 2016, to find out.