Tetlock and Gardner’s “Superforecasting: The art and science of prediction” deserves the praises it received as one of the best books of 2015. It is also easy to read, uses topical illustrations, and gives concrete recommendations. The main message is that it does not take a genius to ace predictions; what matters is having the right thinking approach and working really hard. The book builds on research started by Tetlock in the 1980ies analyzing the forecasting skills of people from different backgrounds and evaluating their predictions against those made by intelligence superstars. His latest project – the Good Judgment Project – gathered 20,000 laypeople who answered about 500 questions and made over 1 million predictions about world affairs during 2011-15. Over the first 2 years of the project, predictions by these recruits beat control groups’ by 70% and “outperformed professional intelligence analysts with access to classified data.” So, what’s the trick? Here is summary of what helps: break down the big question into as many sub-problems as you can and estimate those; start with the outside view – how common is something in the broader landscape – and then dig into the specifics of the question at hand; integrate other people’s conflicting perspectives; endlessly update your predictions based on new facts (being a newsjunkie helps); have a growth mindset (e.g., maintain constant self-criticism and learn from your mistakes). And practice, practice, practice. All this works in time horizons below 5 years. Beyond that, the motto is: “plan for surprise”. If you are a podcast-type person, two recommendations for getting the gist of the book: here (45’) and here (48’).
Cross and al.’s “Collaborative overload” tells us that while collaboration has taken over the workplace (80% of our time), a third of value-added collaborations comes from only 3-5% of employees. What is problematic is that those super-collaborators are not on the radar of senior management, their work is typically not accounted for nor rewarded, and their level of engagement and career satisfaction is low. Everybody wants them and their skills but they are the first to get burned out and leave the job. Oh, and the majority of them are women. The call to managers is clear: spot and reward your collaborators; and redistribute responsibilities for collaboration fairly. Otherwise you may quickly lose skills essential to dealing with cross-cutting issues.
My map of the week is HowMuch.net’s “This world map shows the economic growth over the coming decade”. It visualizes countries’ annual growth rates up to 2024 as forecasted by Harvard’s Center for International Development. Top growing countries over the period are located in Asia (with India leading globally) and Africa (with Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi and Madagascar on top of the list). Guatemala is in the lead for LAC, Egypt for MENA, and Turkey for CEE-CIS.
My quote this week is from Deutsche Bank co-head John Cryan [HT Gillian Tett] which reminded me of an interesting Atlantic article on the same topic: “Cash probably won’t exist in 10 years’ time. There is no need for it. It’s terribly inefficient and expensive”. [14’07”].