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The Gray Rhino: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore

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A "gray rhino" is a highly probable, high impact yet neglected threat: kin to both the elephant in the room and the improbable and unforeseeable black swan. Gray rhinos are not random surprises, but occur after a series of warnings and visible evidence. The bursting of the housing bubble in 2008, the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters, the new digital technologies that upended the media world, the fall of the Soviet Union...all were evident well in advance.

Why do leaders and decision makers keep failing to address obvious dangers before they spiral out of control? Drawing on her extensive background in policy formation and crisis management, as well as in-depth interviews with leaders from around the world, Michele Wucker shows in The Gray Rhino how to recognize and strategically counter looming high impact threats. Filled with persuasive stories, real-world examples, and practical advice, The Gray Rhino is essential reading for managers, investors, planners, policy makers, and anyone who wants to understand how to profit by avoiding getting trampled.

306 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 5, 2016

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About the author

Michele Wucker

5 books80 followers
Michele Wucker coined the term “gray rhino” to alert people to the obvious risks that we are more prone to neglect yet have more power to manage than we might think. Her new book is You Are What You Risk: The New Art and Science of Navigating an Uncertain World (April 2021). Her influential third book, The Gray Rhino: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore, has moved financial markets, shaped government policy and business strategies around the world, and inspired a popular TED talk expanding the idea to personal issues. She also is the author of Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola and Lockout: Why America Keeps Getting Immigration Wrong When Our Prosperity Depends on Getting It Right. She has been honored as a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and a Guggenheim Fellow and held leadership roles at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, World Policy Institute, and International Financing Review. She lives in Chicago.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 45 reviews
Profile Image for Austin Bowman.
3 reviews2 followers
February 11, 2016
Michele Wucker describes her book, The Gray Rhino, as a corollary to Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book, The Black Swan, and after finishing it I have to agree. Taleb’s book brought insightful analysis to Black Swans, and how highly improbable events can have extreme consequences. In The Gray Rhino, Wucker explains how highly probable events are often ignored usually resulting in disastrous consequences. She creates a taxonomy of Gray Rhinos—helping readers understand the prevalence of Rhinos out there—then analyzes the various stages of how societies/people react to coming Rhinos. Furthermore, I appreciated how, much like Daniel Kahneman in Thinking Fast and Slow, Wucker provided takeaways/summaries at the end of each chapter. I found it very insightful, and while many of the biases/cognitive fallacies she discusses have been introduced in other books (e.g., The Black Swan, Thinking Fast and Slow, etc.) the information contained provides a useful lens for anyone from those in public policy to business.

I received an advance copy of The Gray Rhino from NetGalley.
Profile Image for Ranting Wright.
17 reviews
January 23, 2018
This book blew my mind.

A ‘Gray Rhino’ is a recognizable and often avoidable threat which is nonetheless ignored and allowed to become an overwhelming disaster. Michele Wucker carefully and intelligently details the five stages and nine configurations involved in Gray Rhino identification, but for simplicity’s sake I would say that Gray Rhinos are all those crises that are obvious and platitudinous. Gum disease, animal extinction, home repair, climate change, housing bubbles, recessions, natural disasters, final exams, energy shortages, collapsing currencies, epidemics, deadlines---we are so aware of and experienced with these threats that we willfully ignore and delay our preventive mechanisms until our only available reactions proceed panicked and unprepared. The cost associated with these rushed responses often exponentially exceeds the cost of planned mitigation, especially when the consequences of shortsighted investments include lost lives. To avoid these disasters, we require a flexible combination of leadership, strategy, circumstance, character, and luck.

My first thought when I saw this book was, “I read something called The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, I wonder if there is any relation between the two.” My suspicions were confirmed as the first sentence in The Gray Rhino’s dust jacket contains the phrase ‘black swan.’ In his electric endeavor, Taleb details outliers, the highly improbable yet high-impact events that completely reshape the globe and for which retrospective explanations are given: the totalizing behemoth that is the Internet; the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the ensuing First World War; the ‘87 stock market crash known as Black Monday; and the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism in the 21st century. Coincidentally, The Black Swan appeared April 2007, around the same time in which another Gray Rhino began to stamp the ground: the American housing bubble and the Great Recession of 2007-2012. I was driven to read Wucker’s work in attempt to discover how these two projects would be related.

Simply put, Wucker’s work is not a rebuttal but a necessary counterpart to Taleb’s galvanizing effort. The Gray Rhino essentially argues that many people missed the point of Taleb’s work and dedicated resources to develop predictive models and investment strategies that could somehow stop, create, or at least profit from the next unpredictable, world-changing event. This hubristic optimism coupled with perverse, short-term financial and social incentives: investments that were momentarily profitable yet unable to achieve longstanding sustainability; social media marketing developed to warp minds into chasing ‘likes’ and retweets with short bursts of text rather than exhaustive and intelligent dialectic engagement; and the era of online shopping which continues to grow as the same customers who support it decry the closing of small ‘mom and pop’ businesses. Spice this concoction with the fact that inertia is the opiate of the human mind, not to mention the ever-present romanticizing of ‘living in the moment,’ and the end result is a half-baked society that doesn’t want to do anything yet expects everything immediately and ignorantly believes that none of it will ever run out or go wrong. Lisa Simpson warns us from way back in 1993 that this “quick-fix, one-hour photo, instant oatmeal society” is a threat to all of us, and Wucker echoes a similar sentiment when reexamining the work of Taleb: “Why worry about an odd bird when you’re facing a two-ton beast?” (15).

Even though most of the crises in this book appear within governmental and corporate frameworks, The Gray Rhino makes very tangible the connection between these larger disasters and our struggles with personal meltdowns. For example, I know very little about futurism, financial and economic analytics, stock market algorithms, climatology, and engineering---most of what I now know actually came from reading this book and researching the people, events, and exhaustive vocabulary discovered within the exhilarating ten chapters. However, through explicit description of the five stages of Gray Rhinos---denial; muddling; diagnosing and bargaining; the panic state; and the watershed moment in which we either avert disaster or succumb to the trampling---Wucker suggests that action at the individual level is not only parallel to action at the governmental and corporate levels, but that one informs the other, becomes the other, and all levels of responsibility and accountability become at some point fluid and inseparable.

In other words, we as democratic citizens cannot fairly attack our leaders for procrastinating in the face of danger and mishandling taxpayer money if we can also catch ourselves forgetting to vote, brush our teeth, recycle our cardboard, change our oil, renew our passports, and make our beds on a regular basis. Ironically, on a shortsighted scale it may seem that I am trivializing the situation by comparing my laziness in bed-making to something like Rob Ford’s mishandling of the 2013 Toronto snowstorms, Minneapolis routinely ignoring warnings that could have prevented the I-35W bridge collapse, or the Bush administration misjudging the effectiveness and timing of hurricane preparedness strategies set forth by FEMA before Hurricane Katrina. However, the presidents, prime ministers, mayors, doctors, CPAs, climatologists---our experts are only human. We expect these experts to carry intelligence and skill beyond our own capabilities, but as Michele Wucker warns, “too few leaders step up in time, unless it is on the off chance that they are hearing voices, have a teenager’s sense of invincibility, feel that they have absolutely nothing to lose, or are a saint” (23). Our leaders are just like us: often afraid to be wrong; often complicit in confirmation bias and ‘groupthink’, the tendency to take recent examples and like-minded opinions as more valuable than others; often afraid to spend money even when fiscal conservatism will actually create larger debt loads in long-term realities. We often prefer to complain about a flat tire rather than spend the money on a tire change, just as governments often prefer to express condolences over flood damage rather than renew floodplain projections that will spike insurance and construction rates. Take the average citizens’ disinterest in preventive measures and multiply it by a factor of seven billion. Yes, some of those citizens are paid extraordinarily more money than others and are thus supposed to have a more vested interest in the survival of our societies and our species as a whole, but the sad, simple truth is that caring about the planet and its lifeforms is often too daunting a task to achieve on a consistent basis.

Far from being a harbinger of doom, however, The Gray Rhino is brightly yet functionally optimistic. Wucker carefully details the simple but powerful strategies we can employ to counteract denial, disinterest, muddling, ignorance, panic, and chaos. We need to absorb information from as many viewpoints as possible, being careful to avoid settling on popular opinion, confirmation bias, ‘groupthink,’ and conventional wisdom. We need to act decisively, but we must simultaneously stay flexible, unafraid to transmogrify if we catch ourselves in the middle of an incorrect prediction. We must be transparent with each other at the individual, governmental, and corporate levels so there are no hidden variables for which we have not accounted. We must keep a steady, adaptive eye on the horizon instead of resting on our laurels and expecting one successful strategy to be a catch-all for the future. Opportunity is never far from disaster, so if we take all preventive steps and we still find ourselves trampled by a Gray Rhino, we must not wallow in despair and self-deprecation but instead spring forward with renewed enthusiasm. If we find ourselves in times when crises are not imminent, we must not relax in the downtime but instead train ourselves and fortify our strengths with new skills and conditioned confidence. We must occasionally break our preconceived notions and review the world with “Alien Eyes” in case we missed something to which we have previously numbed ourselves. At the most fundamental level, we must combine the relatively calculable and practicable elements of ourselves (leadership, character, strategy) with the turbulent elements (circumstances, luck) that require our minds and actions to be as flexible as they are sound.

By the year 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities, and most major cities lie along coastlines (9). Combine these threats with rising sea and pollution levels and in the next few decades the world will potentially face unprecedented elevations in unemployment, political upheaval, broken transportation systems, crumbling infrastructure, energy shortages, water wars, jammed health care facilities, natural disasters, education imbalances, and total apocalypse---that last one was a joke, and I say the world ‘potentially’ faces these crises because they can all be prevented, or at least maximally mitigated, if we as a species can wake up and collectively dedicate ourselves to our own survival. There is so much more to say about Michele Wucker’s powerful work in The Gray Rhino, but I will leave it to you to read the book and discover the awakening for yourself.
December 20, 2016
I'd been looking for a book to help me understand the overwhelming world we've been living in for some time now, overwhelming because of the information overload. It's a timely book given that the orange rhino is about to become president. I found it very helpful because Wucker gives examples - Enron, the 2008 recession, to name two huge calamities - and other situations where the right things were done to avert calamity. The most important aspect of the book for me was it gave me both a framework for how to see and assess that overload of information arriving everyday, and how to take that view of the macrocosm and turn it towards the microcosm of that small world I walk through everyday. It was just what I needed as we head into totally uncharted waters.
345 reviews3,029 followers
August 20, 2018
Language commends a powerful grip over the mind. That which we have no words for hides in the shade while an expression like for example the black swan as popularized by Nassim Taleb spurs discussion around the subject at hand. In this book the Chicago based journalist, author and opinion maker Michele Wucker launches the concept of a gray rhino as a highly probable and largely predictable, high-impact, yet willfully neglected threat. The question the book tries to answer is why decision makers often keep failing to address these obvious hazards until they turn into a full-blown imminent crisis. Wucker’s aim with this book is to make people react earlier.

After two introductory chapters defining the gray rhino concept, presenting the general outline of the book and discussing the difficulty of forecasting the future, the book dedicates one chapter each to the stages of the below described framework before finishing of with a couple of concluding sections – including a side note on real rhinos. The framework describes a typical but unfortunate five-stage response to facing a gray rhino: 1) denial, 2) muddling, 3) diagnosis, 4) panic and 5) action. The response is unfortunate as it’s too slow. Activities to handle the issue are only done when the threat is imminent and immediate, not earlier when it would have been much cheaper to do something. The gray rhinos that the author brings up are generally something out of the UNs Sustainable Development Goals or sometimes from the last financial crisis but the framework can clearly be applied to any crisis. The human capacity to procrastinate is universal.

In the first stage of the framework the delay, as I read Wucker, is mainly psychological and the threat simply isn’t picked up due to individual biases or groupthink. Since the future is never set in stone the uncertainty gives an excuse to turn the other way. In the second stage the threat is recognized but then more social and institutional obstacles for actions come in play. Naysayers are disruptive for the efficiency of organizations as they walk in the opposite direction from everybody else and the cost of postponing something is in the future while the cost of action hits this year’s budget.

Diagnosing the threat to know how to counter it might be necessary but the process could turn into a delaying tactic in itself. The success of handling the threat comes from the speed of recognizing and defining it plus in prioritizing and acting on the choices made. If the analyzing phase has taken too long leading to inaction, the next stage is panic – ironically leading to everyone freezing for a period before finally acting. The problem of acting while under stress is that the choices made tend to be less thought through.

The author’s solution, which I think is a very wise one, is to create automated systems to aid in the handling of gray rhinos - a system that sends up progressively more red flags as the threat grows larger and that automates responses in accordance to procedures thought out in advance when everyone was in a calm and rational state of mind. Otherwise the general advice from the author is to set up processes and incentive systems to create the ability to think in long-term horizons.

The topic is interesting, I agree with the solutions although it isn’t always easy to - from historical experiences - construct automated systems that will handle future events, but the book isn’t as good as it should have been. Wucker never strongly motivates her framework to start with and the later chapters where the response stages are discussed contain tons of loosely connected stories that bounce back and forth – I lack a stringent story-line. If one removes the many case examples there are very little new generalizable detail in later chapters compared to the initial presentation. The presentation of this important topic, in my opinion, becomes superficial and jumbled.

Instead of focusing too much on unknown unknowns, we should try to handle the unknown knowns; what we should know but refuse to acknowledge. Wucker at least gives us a fair start.
Profile Image for Danielle.
2 reviews
October 13, 2016
At its most basic level, The Gray Rhino explores “highly probably, high-impact, yet neglected threats.” Masterfully weaving together real world examples and interviews with behavioral economic theory, Wucker explores how we, again and again, fail to act in situations involving obvious (and probable) dangers.

Taken as a whole, however, this book is really an instructional manual for how leaders at every level can make better decisions—the kind of decisions that produce positive and sustainable outcomes in the long run. Chapters 5-9, in particular, focus on what actions we can take to recognize and accurately evaluate risks, and to effectively address them before they become newspaper headlines (think: data theft, collapsed bridges, and the global financial system…).

The text is also unpretentious and easy to read, and Wucker’s conversational tone and style makes even the most complex ideas easily comprehensible, and interesting to read about. Also, readers who are pressed for time will appreciate the “Chapter Takeaways” at the end of the main chapters (These nuggets alone would provide a solid framework for an MBA-level course at a top university…)

All in all, this is a smart book that’s a quick and interesting read, and that will actually help you to make better decisions. Definitely adding this one to my collection of high quality leadership resources.
Profile Image for David.
516 reviews7 followers
May 15, 2017
we do not need a book to tell us that rhino is in front of us, if we do, then it means most of us are ether too dumb to notice nor too ignorant..BUT it is also true the above 2 scenarios are true...we knew it, but we did not do anything about it. Author was wrong about Black Swans as highly improbable but Rhino is highly probable...this is a major flaw against Taleb because probabilities according to Taleb are always there, but we ignore it, so when it hits, it hits BIG..so it is always there and always plausible...it is not a great book based on a non-professional writing just about nothing..using flood and 2008 subprime incident to encourage our dumb policy makers to enhance better for our lives? It is simply called GREED..........
Profile Image for Jared.
20 reviews
July 31, 2020
This book discusses how to recognize and act on obvious dangers and gives a lot of examples of companies successfully acting out failing to act. It reads mainly as a collection of these. The issue is the counterexample, where expensive action was taken for what turned out to be a non issue. I did not see some good methods for separating out the obvious and important issues from those where the likelihood is overstated.
Profile Image for Darius.
2 reviews6 followers
January 28, 2022
Sadly, this book was a great disappointment to me. It's chock-full of random anecdotes and platitudes (you should think long-term!; you should balance the good and the bad!). Not worth reading in my view.
Profile Image for Kuszma.
2,148 reviews141 followers
January 17, 2020
Van egy erénye ennek a könyvnek: Taleb „fekete hattyú”-jelenségével polemizál. Az említett kultikus kötet ugyanis azt állítja, hogy léteznek ún. „fekete hattyúk”, olyan előre nem kalkulálható válságok, amik fenekestül felforgatják a világot, és senki nem látja őket előre – az egyetlen védekezés ellenük a rugalmas alapok kiépítése meg a friss gondolkodás, úgyhogy a kockázatbecslők meg a statisztikusok menjenek el inkább angóranyulat tenyészteni, úgy több hasznukat vesszük. Wucker ezzel szemben azt állítja, hogy jó, jó, vannak fekete hattyúk, de amit annak hiszünk, gyakran inkább „szürke rinocérosz”, vagyis olyan böhöm nagy és veszedelmes jószág, amit igenis lehetett látni előre (naná, akkora, mint egy lakókocsi), csak éppen lusták voltunk észrevenni. Ezzel egyet is értek – Taleb szerintem is minden fittyfenére rásüti, hogy fekete hattyú (gondolom, azért, hogy elmélete univerzálisabbnak hasson*), többek között az első világháborúra is, holott ültő helyemben fel tudnék sorolni 100 embert (most nagyot mondtam, de sebaj), akik előre látták, csak éppen a véleményüket le se tojta senki. Vagyis bizony az pont egy „szürke rinocérosz” volt, amelyekre lehetőség lett volna felkészülni. 1:0 Wuckernek. Csak hát ennyi – mert innentől kezdve a szerző alibizik, és be is rámolnak neki három gólt. Csúfos vereség, még ha nem is döntöttem el, kitől. Mondjuk az elvárásaimtól.

Az van, hogy ebben a könyvben minden fejezet végén van egy pármondatos konklúzió – ha csak azt olvassa el bárki, igaz lelkemre mondom, semmit sem veszít. A többi csak példa, anekdota, sztorizás, magyarán: sok rizsa. És hát rizsa speciel lehet nagyon érdekes és olvasmányos – de sok rizsa soha. (Ez egy alapszabály.) Nem mondom, a konklúziókat azért érdemes átfutni, van okosság bennük – például hogy a szürke rinocéroszok elleni egyik leghathatósabb védelem a sokszínű, sokpólusú döntéshozatal kiépítése. Ugyanakkor többnyire azt is olyasmik töltik meg, amit az ember úgyis tudott már, feltéve, hogy nem az állami vagy privát konteógyárak csecsén hízott nagyra. Nézzünk meg több forrást, ne engedjük, hogy az elvárásaink befolyásoljanak bennünket, a válságot használjuk fel a következő válságra való felkészülésre, stb… hát ez nagyjából minden második hétköznapi pszichológiával foglalkozó könyvben megtalálható. (Többnyire már az alcímükben.) A nagyobb gond, hogy még ezekkel az összefoglalókkal sem voltam maradéktalanul elégedett.

Mégpedig azért, mert Wucker egyik alapállítása, hogy az emberek azért nem veszik észre a szürke rinocéroszra utaló jeleket, mert az kimozdítaná őket a komfortzónájukból – túl optimisták tehát. Csak azt veszi be a gyomruk, ami jó nekik. Ugyanakkor én azt tapasztalom, hogy ez nem így van – az emberek ugyanis nemcsak optimista, hanem pesszimista forgatókönyvek beszlopálására is hajlamosak**. Ez azért fontos, mert ezek szerint talán nem egyszerűen a konfliktuskerülés az, ami motiválja a jónépet, hanem hogy az adott információcsoport találkozik-e egy előítéletével, és ezáltal be tudja-e építeni a világképébe, vagy sem. Vagy mondjuk úgy: nem csak a külvilággal, hanem a belvilágunkkal való konfrontációt is el akarjuk kerülni. (Hogy melyiket inkább… embere válogatja.) Ha ez így van, akkor Wucker javaslatai sem feltétlenül állják meg a helyüket, hisz hibás premisszából indult ki. Meg aztán az se biztos, hogy pusztán a vállalati döntéshozatal (vagy a magaspolitika) szintjén kéne keresnünk annak okait, hogy nem reagálunk a veszélyekre… lehet, a problémának részei a részvényesek (választók) is, akiken egészen addig nem lehet átverni a válságkezeléssel kapcsolatos költségeket, amíg maga a válság be nem következik… Na, ilyeneken gondolkodtam. És nem jó ám, ha egy könyv kapcsán nem arról gondolkodunk, ami a könyvben van, hanem azon, ami hiányzik belőle.

Talán olyasvalakinek merném ajánlani a könyvet, akit a vállalkozásokkal kapcsolatos szűk spektrum érdekel, abban, azt hiszem, releváns megállapításai vannak. De társadalomtudományi, geopolitikai vagy akár pszichológiai szakkönyvnek karcsú.

* Amivel amúgy még nem is lenne baj, csak Taleb könyvének van egy nem várt mellékhatása is: azzal, hogy a nem kiszámítható válságokat helyezi előtérbe, egyeseket esetleg arra csábít, hogy hagyják figyelmen kívül a szakemberektől érkező előrejelzéseket. Amit nyilván az is elősegít, hogy maga Taleb is elég… khm… élesen tud megnyilatkozni a szakemberek szaktudásával kapcsolatban.
** Erre amúgy Wucker is utal egy félmondattal – hogy az érzelmileg látványos katasztrófák eltakarják előlünk a valós veszélyeket –, de ennek okairól egy szót se ejt, és elintézi annyival, hogy ezt a politikai-vállalati machinátorok kihasználják, hogy elleplezzenek előlünk valamit.
Profile Image for Kathy Heare Watts.
5,716 reviews176 followers
July 5, 2017
I won a copy of this book during a Goodreads giveaway. I am under no obligation to leave a review or rating and do so voluntarily. I am paying it forward by passing this book along to a business organization that offers business skills, hope, and dreams to be used in their ministry.
Profile Image for Barack Liu.
461 reviews15 followers
September 4, 2020

222-The Gray Rhino-Michele Wucker-Society-2016

- spend fifteen minutes a day to think about , you want the next five years what it was like , and what to do to achieve it.

"The Gray Rhino" (The Gray Rhino), first published in the United States in 2016. It uses the gray rhino as a metaphor for potential crises with high probability and huge impact.

Michele Wucker (Michele Wucker ) was born in the United States in 1969. Studied at Rice University and Columbia University. She is the recipient of the 2007 Guggenheim Scholars Award and the 2009 World Economic Forum "Young Leader". Representative works: "Gray Rhino" and so on.

Part of the catalog
1. Encounter a gray rhino
2. Difficulties encountered in the prediction process: resistance and denial
3. Denial: Why can't we see the rhino herd? Why can't we avoid their course of attack?
4. Let it go: Why do we have seen rhinos rushing but still do not avoid?
5. Diagnosis: whether the solution is right or wrong
6. Panic: Decisions when disaster is imminent
7. Action: Time of Epiphany
8. Post-disaster: crisis is also an opportunity not to be wasted
9. When the danger is far away: make long-term plans
10. Conclusion: How to hedge

Nasim Taleb first discussed the concept of "black swan" in "Fooled by Randomness" in 2001. Michele Wucker proposed the concept of "gray rhino" at the Davos Global Forum in January 2013. Michelle also mentioned the similarities and differences between the "Gray Rhino Incident" and the "Black Swan Incident" many times in this book.

In academia, some scholars tend to name their theories after a certain organism, so that the salient features of the theory can be quickly understood and accepted through certain characteristics of the organism.

In the past, Europeans had only seen white swans, so when they first saw black swans, their social perceptions fluctuated drastically. When a huge black or white rhino (both can be classified as gray) rushes towards you, the degree of danger is obvious.

The author divides people's attitudes towards the "Gray Rhino Incident" into five stages:
1. Conflict and denial
2. From denial to acceptance
3. Pass it by
4. Panic
5. Action or breakdown

Enumerating real-life cases is a common writing technique. The author spends a lot of space in this book describing the status quo and impact of environmental degradation, and the survival dilemma of rhinos on the verge of crisis, so that I feel a bit overwhelming and deviating too far from the theme. .

Predicting the future to adjust current behavior is a significant difference between humans and other animals. A somewhat extreme saying is, "Fools look at one step, wise men look at ten steps, and sages look at a hundred steps." Some people's enthusiasm for prediction has expanded from predicting daily affairs to predicting numerology.

Pessimists tend to think that the predicted results are equal to the actual results. If the predicted results are good, they will naturally lay their hands on the rule of the world; if the predicted results are dangerous, then they would rather sit still and fight instead of fighting. Optimists tend to think that the forecast can only be used as a reference. If the forecast result is dangerous, you must make more preparations now. If the forecast result is optimistic, you may wish to take the current step a bit bigger.

So how to deal with the "gray rhino incident"? The author gives 6 steps:
1. Acknowledge the existence of the crisis
2. Define the nature of the gray rhino crisis event
3. Don't stand still
4. Don't waste the crisis
5. Stand downwind
6. Become the one who discovers the gray rhino crisis and the one who controls the gray rhino crisis

Some people say that "fate depends on fate, luck depends on luck, and good luck depends on diligence." Since we can only control the "diligence" of the three, and can't do anything about the other two, why not give up the entanglement and "fate" and "Fortune", only grasp the "diligence" in your hand? The way to deal with gray rhinoceros-like crises is also in it, and it is only in "action" that it is helpful.

"The accident will eventually happen because we are unwilling to face it. We don't do any further questioning because we don't want to know the answer. We are afraid that once we know the answer, we will have to deal with all kinds of troublesome and difficult questions. Fear that things will not go as good as we expect. When faced with what is about to happen, we are always overly optimistic, ignoring the fact that stable things may go wrong. Even if we are clearly aware of the current dangers, We still will not take appropriate actions to prevent the eventual occurrence of disasters. Because when we deal with political and financial issues, many of the reasons that lead us to make mistakes are entrenched and unbreakable in our minds: too fast for quick success, short-sightedness, resource allocation Imbalances and underestimation of risks are even misjudgments.

As a result, no matter how well-designed the early warning system in the world is, and no matter how earth-shaking its sound is, we cannot really expect it to wake up our leaders and prompt them to do what they should do. Many times, we admit that the crisis warning is accurate, but we will still stand still until a catastrophe is imminent, sometimes even until everything is irreparable, we will repent. The ideological motives that make us make mistakes are always repeated mischief, causing inevitable disasters. "

Sometimes , in the whole chain of things , the weakest link is actually the human link. People in the subconscious , the are not willing to face the problem of trouble, always want as much as possible to postpone. The black swan event is an unexpected event . He caught us by surprise because he was hit by surprise. As for the gray rhino event, the signs of its appearance are so obvious. Everyone knows that it is hazardous, but it harm rate is not so rapid. Like everyone knows drinking and smoking is not good for the body, but because of its role is not immediately apparent , so people can accept the suicide of such a subtle way.

" Thinking about how to face the collision of rhinos is like leaders considering how to respond to imminent threats. Whether it is the geopolitical reconstruction that affects the future direction of the world, or the market chaos and the impact of a company, an institution, a country, or a region. A major management challenge, or affect the personal decision of an individual or family, when the danger is in front of us, we all have to make quick judgments and take actions. Every decision is the result of all past actions and events; The reason for this error is not unique. The correct decision in advance will produce completely different results, like a rhino away from the potential angry. Once a mistake is made, the risk will soar, and the options before us are not Then there are good and bad, but bad, worse, and even impossible.

A gray rhino refers to a risk with extremely high probability and strong impact: a risk that we should be aware of is like a two-ton rhino, aiming its horns at us and attacking us at full speed. Like the distant cousin (the elephant) who was rampaging in the china shop, the gray rhino is also huge, so we should be able to see it easily. You might think that such an eye-catching behemoth should not be ignored. The actual situation is just the opposite. We did not respond in a timely and effective manner. One of the reasons was its stupid size. We are constantly making mistakes, failing to see the very obvious dangers, so we have not been able to prevent the occurrence of the highly destructive disasters with high probability: those disasters that we have the ability and opportunity to prevent. "

Sudden events that come quickly and violently will attract all our attention. Forcing us to devote all our energies , think about how to solve it . However, there is a danger for negative events like gray rhinos that seem to have no immediate effect . I have but might not be quick to respond. Because we have confidence in ourselves. I believe that when the danger of such incidents comes before us , we can accurately avoid this big guy. Like long-term smokers, probably think they can bring real devastating dangers of smoking before , can stop their smoking behavior.

" Wrong thoughts and motives and misjudgments of personal interests will greatly contribute to our natural nature to resist actions. For example, bankers have clearly understood the risks of the subprime mortgage crisis, but still refuse to stop from this risky investment. ; The local officials knew that the condition of the bridge was very bad, but they repeatedly delayed the dangerous time; the foreman knew that there were huge cracks on the wall of the factory building, but still focused on the business at hand, until the whole factory collapsed completely. ; Supervisors and executives clearly know that the behavior of cashiers, accounting, etc. is suspicious, but still refuses to accept all kinds of warnings; engineers clearly know how dangerous a low-quality and crude 57-cent firearm is, but still do not go Replacement; Because the CEO of the company has not made any effective response to the emergence of disruptive new technologies, the companies that have been in the leading position in the industry are replaced by new technologies and companies, and they can only barely struggle to maintain in the market; companies or countries The veterans, knowing that they are running out of time, it is time for the younger generation to take over, but they still prefer to lead the country or enterprise to destruction rather than let go of their power. "

Or in other words, knowing that the risk of a trip is huge, but still insisting on completing the trip. Humans are not always rational. We sometimes that will make a few rather foolish behavior. These stupid behaviors are not because we have insufficient intelligence. It's because we are affected by emotion when we act.

" Another global potential threat is pandemic. Warnings of widespread outbreaks are appearing more and more frequently, letting people understand that the problem they are facing is: it is not whether a pandemic on a global scale will happen, but when it will happen. "

This book was first published in 2016, and only 4 years later , in 2020 , an infectious disease that spread across the world appeared . It often takes a process for the expected risks to become actual risks. Usually we are either busy dealing with the dangers that have arisen. Either you want to be lazy and sit and watch the accumulation of negative factors. All factors add up until the risk becomes a reality. It became the last straw that overwhelmed the camel. It's like an avalanche. The best we can do behavior is to avoid its appearance. Because once it appears, the result is almost unstoppable.

" In the field of zoology, a group of rhinos will be called "crash"; I can't think of a better term to describe it. Any potential crisis described here is in itself In other words, it is already terrible. If it comes with other crises, it is even more irresistible. Precaution is the most difficult. Under the pressure of daily life, we are unable to deal with simple difficulties and challenges, let alone It's such a complex and terrifying, and it seems that it is difficult to understand and grasp the catastrophic threat. "

The development of human civilization to this day , 100 years ago is compared to the ancestral state of life , we have achieved great progress, so we are prone to complacency. But in fact , we are still quite vulnerable. In the face of real challenges , we still inadequacy , bruised and battered , appeared to be quite clumsy.

222 reviews5 followers
August 14, 2022
类似黑天鹅的另一有关危机意识的概念。设计话题广泛,除了老生常谈的柯达,Blackberry,Nokia,Enron以外,也有提及其他具有影响力的时间,Ebola,次贷危机,千禧年病毒,Hurricane Sandy,以及对3D打印和meta的展望。更多算是列举事例,会觉得有些大同小异。收尾联系到灰犀牛以及动物保护倒是让人耳目一新。通过动物濒临灭绝印证灰犀牛理论的重要性和紧迫性之外也增加了记忆点。
收获不多,但还算是感兴趣的话题。Bio提及作者从纽约搬来了芝加哥,我也刚从纽约旅行回来,提及Chicago Great Fire和林肯公园动物园也是让我倍感亲切的小巧合。
Profile Image for Margaret Sankey.
Author 8 books200 followers
October 30, 2016
This is popular business psychology, identifying gray rhinos as the opposite of black swans--very dangerous but persistent and obvious situations that we ignore. Wucker's examples are largely from from business meltdowns, but the overall conclusions are (unfortunately) ones that not even seeking profitability can challenge groupthink, cultivate a culture that protects whistleblowers, prompt institutions to value diverse input or put fixing systemic problems above less expensively patching the tire.
Profile Image for Ian yarington.
417 reviews4 followers
October 1, 2016
I was in my early twenties when I was watching CSPAN and saw that the republican lead senate and house cut funding to the FEMA, among other things. I always wondered how they could do that and wondered what would happen if something catastrophic happened. I got my answer a few months later when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. This book fascinates me because the idea behind ignorance is what I just don't understand.
Profile Image for Anne Janzer.
Author 6 books124 followers
May 7, 2017
Wow, is this book ever relevant and timely. Wucker takes us on a tour of metaphorical gray rhinos - highly probable, high-impact threats that we would all much rather ignore. Having read the book, I see them everywhere. Yet the message is ultimately one of optimism. Wucker presents a plan for recognizing and avoiding the many gray rhinos threatening us on a global level, in business, and even our personal lives. Let's all get this message out, and learn to be rhino spotters.

1 review
December 1, 2018
I was initially excited read the book because its initial premise is spot on. Unfortunately it seemed like it turned into a long winded review of Black Swan and needless off base stories.

I skipped to the 2nd and later chapters hoping to escape the constant references to Taleb's book but they were there as well. Oh well..... Some of the author's other titles seem interesting.
Profile Image for aya.
77 reviews4 followers
September 17, 2020
"It's one of the simplest examples, though, of how it sometimes takes a major blow to get us to pay attention to what could have been prevented with much less pain and inconvenience."

To be honest, this book is pretty interesting. The author did not dive right into business on how to recognize the upcoming dangers, but she really started the book by explaining on why Rhinos. That the best way to keep a literal rhino from attacking you is not to provoke them in the first place. That once a rhino charges, it's almost impossible to stop them. That rhinos have always been portrayed as the antagonist, the villain, even in cartoons (Spider-Man, Kung Fu Panda series, etc.).
I personally think it made the me easier to digest the ideas presented in this book, as I unconsciously always pictured the imminent dangers as, well, rhinos.
Unfortunately, there are several ideas and arguments which were being repeated over and over in different chapters, and it was not done in order to strengthening the statement, rather it was more like only restating what the author had stated.
This book mainly address government and business owners, but it is also quite helpful for individuals who want to reflect their own life choices.
Profile Image for Chris Boutté.
Author 8 books145 followers
April 7, 2021
I’ve had a Generalized Anxiety Disorder most of my life, and I’m extremely fortunate that it’s been under control for a while now. Although my anxiety doesn’t take over my life anymore, I’m still rather risk averse. Meanwhile, I see people living these care-free lives as if nothing could ever go wrong, and it typically ends in disaster. I’ve always asked, “Why do people not recognize risk in a healthy way?” That’s exactly why I picked up this book from Michele Wucker. I heard about it a while ago and just now read it, and It’s such an amazing book.

In the first part of the book, Wucker does a great job breaking down all of the different cognitive reasons why we don’t recognize dangers. This can be at work, in life, or when it comes to global issues. She has a great chapter on denial, and I also enjoyed her chapter on why we kick the metaphorical can down the road. In the second half of the book, Wucker discusses more specific issues like climate change and also provides a lot of solutions for how we can avoid the “gray rhino” and make better decisions moving forward.
Profile Image for Nara.
221 reviews10 followers
June 30, 2020
This book made me miss my father-in-law, who gave me Nassim Nicholas Taleb's excellent book on black swans. He would have loved this, and I would have loved to talk about it with him. This is a corollary to that book - the premise here is that a "gray rhino" is a disaster that everyone can see coming and nobody acts to avert in time. Climate change, pandemics, market collapse, etc. I think the author is coming at the topic from years of financial reporting, so it's heavily focused on business and markets, but as someone who has put a lot more thought into non-economic manifestations, it was interesting to hear the financial parallels. I thought she placed way too much hope in public/private partnerships and the possibility of capitalist and democratic structures recognizing the economic benefits of long-term planning. I would be thrilled to be proved wrong on that point, though, and the examples were interesting. An engaging and timely read.
March 31, 2021
The author over uses the term gray rhino to the point where I was sick of hearing it. I believe this book is twice as long as it needs to be to make the points that she is trying to make. it’s basically like me trying to write a term paper the night before it’s due and filling it full of fluff. Also she seems to describe totalitarian regimes as better able to handle change and being better at planning for gray rhinos. The author uses the example of China building their infrastructure with highways that are completely empty as an example of being prepared. This does not put the totalitarian regime into context and the fact that the regime may have other motives for building those freeways related to military and governmental uses.
The author also cites the Black Swan book far too many times.
I give it an ehhh.
Profile Image for Karen Cornwell.
Author 1 book3 followers
December 22, 2019
The Gray Rhino is an incredibly eye-opening book. "Recognizing the quirks of human nature that shape our decisions has the power to change our actions." Michele delves deep into the human psyche to help us understand why we ignore the Gray Rhino and offers great advice on how we can recognize and change our collective path. She even offers a taxonomy of Rhinos including strategies to tackle each of them.

I was surprised to find my topic, the gender gap, to be categorized as a Meta-Rhino but grateful that it wasn't in the Conundrum and Gordian Knot category. The book includes a multitude of global stories and real-world examples which Michele uses to explain our Gray Rhino thinking and offer advice for those who wish to no longer be trampled.
36 reviews1 follower
November 7, 2022
A black swan event in any domain is a highly improbable event which causes disproportionate impact shifting the trajectory of growth in that domain. On the contrary, Gray Rhino event is a slow moving catastrophe which everyone is aware about, but fails to take required action for mitigating or countering it. Climate change, challenges posed by social media, cyber security etc. are example of gray rhinos; everyone is certain that it will cause damage but very little is being done to prepare us for it.

In this book the author develops entire theory of Gray Rhino and supports it with examples from various walks of life. Anyone who has read Black Swan by Nassim Taleb will enjoy this too.
Profile Image for Jari Pirhonen.
385 reviews9 followers
March 13, 2021
I like the idea about gray rhinos - high threats which are obvious, highly probable, but not so immediate that we tend to ignore them - until it's too late to do anything else than panicky, expensive reaction. Unlike black swans - which we can't predict - gray rhinos could easily dodged if there would be a will.

Although the idea is good, it was a bit tiresome to listen all the examples and especially the stories about real rhinos. I like business books to keep strictly in business - short and to the point.
Profile Image for Allan Wind.
Author 3 books217 followers
October 7, 2019
Situational awareness

A solid work which I enjoyed reading. An update or sequel I understand may be in the offing which would be good. While some things are OBE it remains a worthwhile investment of time and money to consider how the principles likely apply to aspects of your professional and personal life.
41 reviews
April 11, 2021
I could not avoid comparing this book to The Black Swan, and precisely because of that I found The Gray Rhino to be a sad attempt to continue or expand the original reflection. I was simply painful for me to finish this book. Examples were too basic and overall story was boring. My perception is that the whole book could be summarized in an article.
Profile Image for Lorenzo Barberis Canonico.
124 reviews1 follower
August 4, 2019
Wucker is encyclopedic in her knowledge of crisis management, and, unlike Taleb, she writes very well. The book offers an alternative take on Taleb’s black swan theory insofar as it emphasizes addressing crises that we are aware of and yet fail to address because of maladaptive biases.
Profile Image for Misti Townsend.
34 reviews
January 21, 2020
Dry at times, but shocking and difficult to put down in others. Great book for recognizing cultural and personal cognitive biases plaguing societies and the entities within, as well as for encouraging strategic thinking in relation to business, governments, society and world concerns.
Profile Image for Vivek.
15 reviews
December 27, 2020
Full of insightful examples

I learned a lot of incidents and scenarios around the world through this book. Needless to say parts dedicated to rhino conservation is very beautiful. Overall great book
Profile Image for André Selonke.
382 reviews6 followers
March 25, 2022
A ideia de localizarmos pequenos problemas precocemente e não os postergar faz total diferença em qualquer aspecto profissional
A frase
O lugar mais caro pra se fazer medicina é numa sala de emergência para mim retratou bem a ideia principal do livro pois é uma verdade
40 reviews
July 25, 2018
I really enjoyed this book. Make sure to take notes,
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