Sunday, July 24, 2011

Foxes vs Hedgehogs

From an essay by Dan Garner and Philip Tetlock about the depth of our ignorance in forecasts:

Some even persist in using forecasts that are manifestly unreliable, an attitude encountered by the future Nobel laureate Kenneth Arrow when he was a young statistician during the Second World War. When Arrow discovered that month-long weather forecasts used by the army were worthless, he warned his superiors against using them. He was rebuffed. “The Commanding General is well aware the forecasts are no good,” he was told. “However, he needs them for planning purposes.”

One of the goals of the Reverse Brainstorming technique is to expose things we don't know. "We don't know X, Y, Z" should be on every problem list the group is considering.

Another point to take from Tetlock's other work on decision pattern analysis would be the distinction b/w "foxes" and "hedgehogs."

“the fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”

The experts with modest but real predictive insight were the foxes. The experts whose self-concepts of what they could deliver were out of alignment with reality were the hedgehogs.

The Three Magicians, esp., the second one (Climb on the Roof) should be good for finding alternative scenarios, i.e. simulate the "fox" analysis pattern.

tags: magicians, 3x3, innovation, reverse brainstorm, problem, solutions, quote, information, learning, method, detection

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