Black Swan logic makes what you don’t know far more relevant that what you do know. Consider that many Black Swans can be caused and exacerbated by their being unexpected. Think of the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001: had the risk been reasonably conceivable on September 10, it would not have happened. If such a possibility were deemed worthy of attention, fighter planes would have circled the sky above the twin towers, airplanes would have had locked bulletproof doors, and the attack would not have taken place, period. Something else might have taken place. What? I don’t know. This extends to all businesses. What you know cannot really hurt you.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
The attacks in Belgium this morning were horrific, sickening; breathtakingly frightening. Ghastly.
And, though we have now reached the point that we expect the next terrorist attack – we know there will be another, next terrorist attack — we don’t know where, or when, or how.
As I read a few years ago, we’ve gotten fairly good at stopping the next attack that would be exactly like the last attack. There have been no more airplanes flown into tall skyscrapers in major cities since 9/11. But how do you stop every attack by every suicide bomber and every person ready to use an assault weapon against innocent people in very public places?
There are plenty of leadership books describing the VUCA world we now live in:
I think we are feeling more than a little bit of this volatility on this tragic day, thinking of our shocked, grieving friends in Belgium.
And we worry that when we hear the bell toll, it may some day toll for people close to home.