Monday, December 29, 2008

Fooled By Randomness: Chapters 13 and 14

The following summary was written by Frank Voisin, who regularly writes for Frankly Speaking. Recently, Frank sold four restaurants and returned to school to complete a combined LLB/MBA.

Recognize the dangers of becoming married to a position. If you have invested a great deal of time into formulating a position, or have held a position for a long time, then you will have built up a strong loyalty to that position which acts as a barrier to considering its faults. This is extremely dangerous as failure to reconsider things will prevent you from properly adapting as the situation changes.

The Japanese have a word for this - Kaizen - which is used often in their successful manufacturing process philosophies. It is the constant review of all processes, even those that are successful, always seeking a better process.

The reality of life is that we are dominated by odds. Randomness will occur. The best we can do is plan for contingencies so as to reduce our downside exposure.

Taleb closes by urging us to not abandon our emotion, but instead “Just listen while shaken by emotion but not with the coward’s imploration and complaints.” It is not wrong to have emotions, but it is wrong to follow the path that ignores probability and odds.

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