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

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  210 ratings  ·  37 reviews

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, t

Kindle Edition, 306 pages
Published April 5th 2016 by St. Martin's Press
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Austin Bowman
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ther ...more
Ranting Wright
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Andrew Schulman
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 framewo ...more
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 ...more
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 out
May 15, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 it is always there an ...more
Jul 31, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Kathy Heare Watts
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.
Barack Liu
Sep 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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.
Margaret Sankey
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 ti ...more
Ian yarington
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. ...more
Anne Janzer
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.

Dec 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 16, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
"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 c
Chris Boutté
Apr 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ag ...more
Jun 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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 an ...more
Stephan Granberry
Mar 31, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 highwa ...more
Karen Cornwell
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 grat
Jari Pirhonen
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
Allan Wind
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 11, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Lorenzo Barberis Canonico
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.
Misti Townsend
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. Make sure to take notes,
May 26, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I just wonder why the author of this book use so long a book to elaborate such a simple topic. I felt very boring and time-wasting to read this shallow and deliberately mystifying book.
Jaime Hills
I listened to Michele Wicker’s TED talk and was excited to read this book and learn more about the concept of a Gray Rhino.

Unfortunately, I am left disappointed. Much of what is in the book is succinctly explained in her sub 20 minute talk, and so I found the book to drag on. Several economic examples were given for a concept that should only need one or two, and the language is frustrating to decipher.

I really appreciate the concept of the book, but found the actual copy difficult to get thro
Nick W.
May 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
An interesting way to discuss large world events and working toward strategic thinking. Very much enjoyed it.
Navdeep Pundhir
Nov 14, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The Gray Rhino- How to recognize and act on the obvious dangers we ignore: Michele Wucker
Post financial crisis, a lot of new words and phrases have been incorporated in our jargons; too big to fail, fat tail, black swan etc. The Gray Rhino is the latest edition to this already fancy zoo-ish niche.
So what is a gray rhino? Michele Wucker begins her narrative with the analogy of a man trying to click a picture of a baby rhino in the wilds of Africa. In an epic case of negligence fuelled by testoste
May 29, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If you've read several books on behavioral economics this book might not be worth the 7 to 11 hours of reading time. If it was a 100 pages shorter without losing the following concepts, this book would be a strong recommendation.

- Threats, such as pandemics, bridges in need of repair, Global Warming or heart failure because of over-eating, are likely and obvious threats ("Gray Rhinos")
- Avoid group think (variety of people/sexes/personalities are better at generating different ideas, or spottin
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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 next book, You Are What You Risk: The New Art and Science of Navigating an Uncertain World, will be published in April 2021. Her influential third book, The Gray Rhino: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore, ha ...more

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