At Britten Coyne Partners, Index Investor, and the Strategic Risk Institute, we all share a common mission: To help clients avoid failure by better anticipating, more accurately assessing, and adapting in time to emerging strategic threats.

Improving clients’ (and our own) forecasting process to increase predictive accuracy is critical to our mission and our research in this area is ongoing. In this note, we’ll review a very interesting new paper that has the potential to significantly improve forecast accuracy.

In “Bias, Information, Noise: The BIN Model of Forecasting”, Satopaa, Salikhov, Tetlock, and Mellers introduce a new approach to rigorously assessing…


At Britten Coyne Partners, we have often observed that research on issues related to anticipating, assessing, and adapting in time to emergent strategic threats is poorly shared across the military, intelligence, academic, and practitioner communities. This post is another of our ongoing attempts to share key research findings across these silos.

David Mandel is a senior scientist at Defense Research and Development Canada, specializing in intelligence, influence, and collaboration issues. Based on our review of the research, we regard Mandel as a world leader in the effective communication of forecast probability and uncertainty, which is the subject of this post.


The fall of the US Capitol building to a mob of rioters on January 6, 2021 left millions stunned and horrified, and all asking the same question: “How Could This Happen?” Unfortunately, the answer is painfully familiar to those of us who study strategic failure and spend our days helping organizations to avoid it. The initial evidence suggests that all three of the most common root causes of such failures were present in this case too.

The first root cause is failure to anticipate potential future strategic risks, and to recognize them as they begin to emerge.

It is critical…


SARS-CoV-2

Strategic failure is not just the opposite of success. It is a different phenomenon that has its roots our individual and collective inability or unwillingness to anticipate, accurately assess, or adapt in time to emerging threats.

COVID-19 has been no exception, and has important lessons to teach boards and management teams.

Novel threats are often difficult to anticipate because they emerge from complex global systems with interacting cause/effect relationships that are frequently time delayed and non-linear.

Anticipation is made more difficult by the way humans have been wired by evolution. We are naturally overoptimistic and focus on information that confirms…


Reprinted from Britten Coyne PartnersStrategic Risk Blog

The first is “Anomaly Detection: The Art of Noticing the Unexpected”. Dr. Gary Klein.

With our consulting work with clients at Britten Coyne Partners, and in our Strategic Risk Governance and Management courses at the Strategic Risk Institute, we emphasize being alert to the feeling of surprise, and writing down what caused it, as a powerful method for identifying emerging threats and avoiding failure.

Writing down surprises is critical, because, as Daniel Kahneman explained in Thinking Fast and Slow, our mind’s automatic System 1 reasoning will quickly attempt to fit the surprise…


Reprinted from Britten Coyne Partners Strategic Risk Blog

This week, Mike Morrell had former senior CIA executive Martin Peterson on his Intelligence Matters podcast, which is well worth listening to.

Petersen succinctly summarized the lessons he’d learned over a career (and taught to new analysts) about the root causes of many intelligence analysis errors. They apply equally well to many situations outside the world of intelligence, where analysts and decisions makers must make sense of highly uncertain situations.

Petersen highlighted three classic types of error, and the questions to ask to avoid them.

(1) You don’t have a good understanding…


Reprinted from Britten Coyne Partners Strategic Risk Blog

The arrival of the COVID19 pandemic has made the distinction between risk and uncertainty painfully clear. In the case of the former, the range of possible future outcomes is known, as are their probabilities, and potential impact.

In the case of uncertainty, some or all of these are unknown.

We have many tools available to help us make good decisions in the face of risk. While the crises occasionally remind us that these tools aren’t perfect (e.g., …


Reprinted from the Britten Coyne Partners Strategic Risk Blog

Once the immediate challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic have been met, as they surely shall, a great deal of research will focus on this question: Why did it seem to take so many people, companies, and governments by surprise?

In our work with clients, we stress that strategic disasters results from some combination of three failures: to anticipate a threat, to accurately assess its potential impact, and to adapt to it in time.

The root causes of each of these failures lie in a complex mix of interacting individual…


Reprinted from Britten Coyne Partners Strategic Risk Blog

The AICPA and the Poole College of Management at North Carolina State University have just released their 2020 “State of Risk Oversight” report, based on data collected from over 500 organizations in the fall of 2019.

It paints a damning picture of the situation that prevailed just before the arrival of the COVID19 pandemic.

Here are some of the report’s key findings:

  • “Most respondents believe the volume and complexity of risks is increasing extensively over time.”
  • “Respondents noted that a number of external parties were pressuring senior executives for more extensive information…

Reprinted from Britten Coyne Partners’ Strategic Risk Blog.

Over the last several years in our research, writing and consulting work on Strategic Risk Governance and Management, we have been seeking to define the measures that organisations can take to improve their competence and capability to anticipate, appropriately assess and adapt to or mitigate the consequences of existential threats rising from uncertainty.

Many of the lessons observations and conclusions that we have written and spoken about are now being demonstrated with brutal effect by the Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus) pandemic.

The characteristics of complex adaptive systems

The globally connected technological, economic, social…

BrittenCoyne

Britten Coyne Partners helps organizations avoid failure by anticipating emerging threats sooner, assessing them more accurately, and adapting to them in time.

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