Just in time for your holiday shopping, the Highlands Forum 2011 Reading List features thirty books (mostly non-fiction, but including five works of fiction and one volume of poetry this year), covering biography, management, economics, history, information technology, techno thrillers, science fiction, neuroscience, creativity and innovation, comparative politics and sociology, contemporary conflict studies, and current events. Among these, we have four books recommended by guest reviewers. Our distinguished panel of guest editors this year includes Parag Khanna, April Rinne, Stephen Kosslyn, and Dave Snowden.
Our list is divided into three categories: books recommended by our guest reviewers; books recommended by the Highlands Forum staff; and books used in researching this year's Highlands Forum meetings. Most titles are new; some are classics worth discovering for the first time. They have been selected for their themes and for their capacity to broaden our understanding of emerging issues and inform the way we think about things. We began compiling an annual list in 2000, and it is a continuing work - additional titles are added during the year and compiled at the end of each year in a larger list. Visit the site to peruse our lists for 2000-2010.
April Rinne is the global director
of Water.org's WaterCredit initiative. She arrived at Water.org after nearly a
decade focused on international microfinance, where she worked with dozens of
microfinance institutions (MFIs), investment funds and organizations seeking to
expand access to capital in the developing world. WaterCredit represents a
unique opportunity to put microfinance tools and access to catalytic capital to
work to address the needs of the poor for clean, safe water. Rinne was selected as a Young Global
Leader by the World Economic Forum for 2011. She is also a member of the Board of Directors, World Wide Web Foundation. Rinne earned her J.D. at Harvard Law
School, her M.A. in International Finance and Development Economics at the
Fletcher School of Tufts University, and her B.A. summa cum laude in
International Relations from Emory University. April's book recommendation for
by Charles Fishman
Stephen Michael Kosslyn is an American
psychologist who specializes in the fields of cognitive psychology and
cognitive neuroscience. He is the
director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at
Stanford University. Kosslyn
received his B.A. from UCLA and his Ph.D. in from Stanford University, both in
psychology. Kosslyn is known primarily for his
research and theories on mental imagery. His book
recommendation for us is
by Jonathan R. Cole
"I've been struck repeatedly by an apparent paradox: K-12 education in the United States is generally not wonderful, whereas our university system is without question the best in the world. How can this be? Jonathan Cole's book provides facts that go a long way toward answering that question. Professor Cole traces the history of the modern research university, and explains what makes it tick. In discussing the various factors that apparently have contributed to the unprecedented success of our research universities (at least since the 1930s), it becomes clear that we should not take their continued preeminence for granted. In fact, it is by no means certain that our universities will remain at the top of the heap at the end of the current century unless they are actively supported and nurtured. This book puts our research universities in a broader context, and provides the spark to initiate a much-needed national discussion. In so doing, it raises at least as many questions as it answers; for example, after reading this book, I wondered about how best to: structure the relationship between universities and private enterprise, organize teaching and research, leverage the interactions that already take place among faculties at different institutions (including ones in other countries), and have government monitor and regulate research at universities. Professor Cole alludes to many such questions, but does not attempt to answer them definitively. Depending on how such questions are resolved, our research universities can continue to thrive or will gradually wither on the vine. As Professor Cole makes clear, these questions are not just of academic interest".
Parag Khanna is a Senior Research Fellow in the American Strategy Program at the New America
Foundation. He is author of the international bestseller The Second World: Empires and Influence in
the New Global Order (2008) and How
to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance (2011). In
2008, Parag was named one of Esquire's "75 Most Influential People of the 21st
Century," and one of fifteen individuals featured in WIRED magazine's "Smart
List." Parag is widely published and quoted in media around the. He holds a PhD
from the London School of Economics, and Bachelors and Masters degrees from the
School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Born in India, Parag grew
up in the United Arab Emirates, New York, and Germany. He has traveled to more
than 100 countries and has been named a Young Global Leader of the World
Economic Forum. Parag's book
recommendation for us is
by Ian Morris
"Ian Morris provides the 150,000 year history of globalization in the context of the great divergence of human societies out of Africa eastward and westward. For most of human history, migrating communities displayed a relative equivalent degree of "social capacity," the consistent concept that Morris uses throughout the book to measure the degree of development/modernization. Only in the 18th and 19th centuries during the Industrial Revolution did the West's degree of "social capacity" truly outstrip that of the East, but the gap is closing quickly today through the East's acquisition of modern technology and political structures. The book is important in several respects. It reminds that globalization is a perpetual process that cannot be switched on and off, even by financial crises or pandemics. Furthermore, he underscores Samuel Huntington's vital insight of a half-century ago that modernization does not equal Westernization. Rather it is about the capacity for social, economic, and technological management. Lastly, Morris braves some provocative long-term scenarios about the fate of our collective civilization. Our fusion with technology could have unintended and dangerous consequences, and resource scarcity as well could portend civilizational collapse. Even if neither of these scenarios transpires, together they already render conventional understandings of geopolitics irrelevant. Morris, then, is prescient not only about the past but also the future".
Dave Snowden is Director of the Cynefin
Centre for Organisational Complexity that focuses on the development of the
theory and practice of social complexity. The Centre spun off from IBM in July
2004 to allow it greater freedom to explore new transdiciplinary and
participatory approaches to research and the creation of an open
source approach to management consultancy. The Cynefin framework which lies at
the heart of the approach has been recognized by several commentators as one of
the first practical application of complexity theory to management science and
builds on earlier pioneering work in Knowledge Management. A
native of Wales, he was formerly a Director in the IBM Institute for Knowledge
Management where he led programmes on complexity and narrative. He pioneered
the use of narrative as a means of knowledge disclosure and cross-cultural
understanding. Dave Snowden has an MBA from Middlesex University and a BA in
Philosophy from Lancaster University. Dave's recommendation for us is Neal
Stephenson's new novel,
by Neal Stephenson
by Joel Brenner
From his perches as senior counsel and inspector general at NSA and national counterintelligence executive at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Joel Brenner undoubtedly had a close-up look at cybersecurity threats to U.S. national security. Unfortunately those threats are as much economic as physical, he writes, and even more so in the case of the U.S.'s biggest trading partner. Brenner calmly lays out the case that the U.S. faces a China continually angling to return to relative dominance in Asia. But do the Chinese want open war or cyberwar? Far from it, Brenner answers, "yet conflict is the reality, even in the midst of a mutually advantageous relationship. For the foreseeable future our relationship with China will continue to involve constant struggle for unilateral advantage, even as we seek common ground and mutual advantage." The result is that U.S. corporate and government networks and their intellectual property are under constant attack by other nation-states and their sympathizers. But as Brenner told an interviewer elsewhere, cybersecurity is not a technological problem as much as a management problem: "If you don't know who's on your network and you don't know what hardware and software are on your network, and you let all kinds of unauthorized and often suspect hardware and software connect to your network and you don't know what traffic's going through your network, you don't control your own network." Brenner ends by writing that the new age of cybersecurity involves separating what is truly secret and crucial from the rest of your data, then paying a lot of attention to the dissemination and handling of the most important information. But that's just the start of his prescription: We need to be proactive and inside attackers' networks before they attack us, just as the Chinese are inside our networks now.
by Gordon Woo
Gordon Woo tries to understand why catastrophes happen and how they're related, rather than simply what their immediate consequences are. Woo, a professional catastrophist with Risk Management Solutions, has consulted for large insurance concerns about risk management, with BP on its offshore oil-drilling operations, and with the International Atomic Energy Agency on seismic safety. Woo's concerns extend beyond comparing different types of financial events with one another, seeking patterns in the comparison of financial catastrophes and natural disasters. And what do earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and hurricanes have to do with political violence and industrial accidents? As Woo puts it:
"There are common roots in their calculational framework which make a knowledge of natural hazards relevant for those aspiring to deepen their understanding of man-made hazards, and to lessen the degree of surprise they may cause".
Woo notes that, in the case of earthquakes, minor tectonic events may become major only when conditions around them are well-suited to amplify the small earthquake's consequences, an idea that has straightforward application to man-made events such as terrorist attacks and the 2008 financial crisis.
by John Arquilla
John Arquilla is a regularly reviewed and interviewed subject on the Highlands Forum webpage, just as he is all over the media landscape, and with very good reason. His has been the leading voice (along with the co-author of many of his early, now classic works, David Ronfeldt) on cyber, networks, conflict, and irregular warfare long before we ever engaged in those very different forms of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has been the clear eye seeing these social, technical, and military trends before they developed. It would be fair to say that he is still waiting for adoption of strategies that take full advantage of the concepts he has been discussing for well over a decade. In his latest work Arquilla takes a look back to give his audience (especially those who don't see what he has been writing about prescriptively over the past two decades) historical cases that display the very principles he points to in the present. He points to "inferior" forces using imagination and skill, leveraging the weaknesses of "superior" forces, with cases ranging from Nathaniel Greene in the U.S. Revolutionary War to Robert Rogers in the French and Indian War to Nathan Bedford Forrest in the Civil War; in less well-known, non-American cases he points to leaders such as General Giap of North Vietnam and Chechen rebel Aslan Maskhakov. While his cases all differ from each other in minor and significant ways, each is fascinating and illuminating in their own manner. These wars, these leaders, may be forgotten by many, but Arquilla brings them new life, examining each one against our contemporary conflicts, and recognizing the continuing truths that each one demonstrates. Arquilla always writes important books and writes well. This is a collection of cases that should remind us of where we have been, what we have forgotten, and where we are headed.
by Steven Levy
In some ways Google and the U.S. armed forces face similar challenges. Both have gone through a decade of rapid growth, and both face new competitors and new challenges to their business models. Steven Levy describes a Google that has dealt with its massive growth by finding ways to fool itself into acting like a small organization. For example, CEO Larry Page has all his division chiefs sit in the same room a few afternoons a week and work from there-still supervising their operations, but all available for immediate consultation with peers should their interaction generate useful sparks. At these times, giant Google, Incorporated effectively shrinks to the size of that conference room, a throwback to the days when the company numbered only a few dozen. Google also retains its famously grueling hiring process, to the point that co-founder Sergey Brin still signs off on every new hire personally, even though the company now numbers 23,000 employees. The occasional wart makes it between the covers, and Levy also covers Google's efforts to expand into China and how that drive led it astray from its "don't be evil" motto. In the main, though, readers interested in how Google has managed to function and excel in a highly competitive environment (think Facebook), yet successfully manage challenges that the DoD also struggles with-speed, experimentation, risk-taking and openness-will be fascinated.
by Wade Davis
We have long had a penchant for featuring discoverers and explorers on the Highlands Forum website. Five years ago we did a feature interview with the remarkable Abigail Alling, who lived in the Biosphere, dove the coral reefs of the oceans as head of the Planetary Coral Reef Foundation, and managed the design and development of the Mars on Earth project. Over a decade ago, noted architect and explorer Travis Price III introduced us to his colleague, Wade Davis, a Canadian anthropologist, ethnobotanist, author and photographer. Davis is an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society and named as one of the Explorers for the Millennium, and has been described as a "rare combination of scientist, scholar, poet, and passionate defender of all of life's diversity". He was beginning to work on a book that he wanted to tell us about, one that sounded more like a novel of high adventure than a scholarly history. Just in time for Christmas, Knopf has published Davis's remarkable book, hailed as "magnificent", "magisterial", and "exhilarating"; a bestseller selected as an editor's pick, book of the month and book of the year. Wade's book, which took him more than a decade to write, is an account of the first British attempts to climb Mount Everest in 1921-24, all against the backdrop of the Great War. It is the first such account to trace the lives of the climbers through the agony of the Western Front, and to tell the story of the expeditions from both the British and Tibetan perspectives. It is that and much more. His writing is beautiful, his story breathtaking. Most highly recommended.
by Simon Sebag Montefiore
"Jerusalem is the universal city, the capital of two peoples, the shrine of three faiths; it is the prize of empires, the site of Judgement Day and the battlefield of today's clash of civilizations".
by Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais
In their previous book reviewed here,
by Walter Isaacson
Steve Jobs's biographer,
Walter Isaacson, had remarkable access to his subject, conducting 40 interviews
over two years. Remarkably for one of the world's most celebrated controlling
personas, Jobs apparently made no effort to influence Isaacson's final product,
even encouraging friends and colleagues to speak candidly with him. This was
one of Jobs's final amazing feats, considering that his style of fooling
enemies and friends (and perhaps himself in his less self-reflective moments) became known as the Reality Distortion
Field. Jobs' death, at the height of his creative powers and corporate success,
coincided almost exactly with the biography's publication, making
by Daniel Kahneman
economist Daniel Kahneman presented to the Highlands Forum several years ago
when were considering elements of decision-making, networks, and
deterrence. His seminal work
has been decision-making under conditions of uncertainty, and he has a number
of new points to make about how we reach decisions. Kahneman, who along with
Amos Tversky has done more than any other person to puncture the idea that
humans make decisions rationally, divides our thought processes into an
intuitive, emotional "fast" System 1 and a more deliberative, more
logical System 2. Each has strengths and weaknesses; System 1's virtue is
speed, but its Achilles heel is relying on preformed biases. System 2 kicks in
when you do or decide on something slower or more complex, and although it is
powerful, System 2 is biased toward conserving energy and spending the minimal
resources needed to get the job done. Remarkably, the two systems work together
but don't necessarily complement one another; in fact, each may multiply the
other's errors, and System 1 tends to stay in the driver's seat for better or
worse. Luckily, System 1 actually does get it right a lot of the time, even
while committing various cognitive sins: overconfidence, loss aversion, and the
sunk-cost fallacy-the failure to cut our losses when we realize we're in
too deep. Given too little information to make a good decision about two
alternatives, System 1 will still make a decision-although Kahneman notes that experts can train their
System 1 pattern recognition over time to produce good answers quickly. But
policymakers beware: This is useful mainly in tactical situations rather than
slow-burn phenomena such as parsing Middle East politics.
by Mark Bowden
by David Ignatius
by Alan Lightman
It's about time! Yes, that is the theme
of this fascinating, now classic work of fiction
by Alex Shakar
with our curious fascination on the theme of dreams in this year's list,
by David Eagleman
"In the afterlife you relive all your experiences, but this time with the events reshuffled into a new order: all the moments that share a quality are grouped together... Fifteen months looking for lost items. Eighteen months waiting in line. Two years of boredom: staring out a bus window, sitting in an airport terminal. One year reading books
(not the books on this list!)". Neuroscientist and author David Eagleman makes us take a long, long look at ourselves and what we think, what we believe, and what we want to believe through the course of these afterlives. In the final chapter, Reversal, Eagleman tells us:
"There is no afterlife, but that doesn't mean we don't get to live a second time... (in the fashion of Benjamin Button) babies climb back into the wombs of their mothers, who eventually shrink and climb back into the wombs of their mothers, and so on like concentric Russian dolls... At the moment of reversal you are genuinely happy, for while life must be lived forward the first time, you suspect it will really be understood only upon replay... Reversing through the corridors of your life, you are battered and bruised in the collisions between reminiscence and reality. By the time you enter the womb again, you understand as little about yourself as you did your first time here".
by Alexandra Villard de Borchgrave
years ago, Alexandra Villard de Borchgrave appeared on our annual reading list
with a marvelous biography,
...hope may be found in the heart's own strength,
Still stalwart and true on its lonely perch;
Persevere though gales of grief may mount,
As daring may open new paths to search.
by Joseph A. Tainter
In one of our first conversations with Andy Marshall some seventeen
years ago he advised that "if you want a new idea, you should read an old
book". As we looked for interesting ideas to help focus the theme for
Highlands Forum XLIV, "Failure and Collapse in Complex Systems", we
ran across an old book that indeed gave us some new ideas. In 1988, Joseph
by Richard Bookstaber
Bookstaber's book opens with this startling admission:
"While it is not strictly true that I caused the two great financial crises of the late twentieth century-the 1987 stock market crash and the Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM) hedge fund debacle 11 years later-let's just say I was in the vicinity. If Wall Street is the economy's powerhouse, I was definitely one of the guys fiddling with the controls. My actions seemed insignificant at the time, and certainly the consequences were unintended. You don't deliberately obliterate hundreds of billions of dollars of investor money. And that is at the heart of this book-it is going to happen again. The financial markets that we have constructed are now so complex, and the speed of transactions so fast, that apparently isolated actions and even minor events can have catastrophic consequences."
His insightful 2007 book,
by Antonio Damasio
Those who see the emotions
as interfering with rational decision-making and yearn for a Spock-like ability
to suppress them should take a deep breath before reading
"I had grown up accustomed to thinking that the mechanisms of reason existed in a separate province of the mind, where emotion should not be allowed to intrude, and when I thought of the brain behind that mind, I envisioned separate neural systems for reason and emotion ... But now I had before my eyes the coolest, least emotional, intelligent human being one might imagine, and yet his practical reason was so impaired that it produced, in the wanderings of daily life, a succession of mistakes, a perpetual violation of what would be considered socially appropriate and personally advantageous".
This isn't just some quibble over what constitutes rational decision-making; Damasio argues that our bodies' senses feed information to the brain in ways that have nothing to do with cognition and conscious decision-making, but that when experienced as emotions are necessary for contextualizing the world around us and making valid decisions. He points out that seemingly baseless gut feelings help us make better decisions, at a minimum by acting as filters that narrow down the number of choices we confront.
by Peter J. Denning and Robert Dunham
Denning and Dunham argue that innovation is not inventions, nor is it something that companies do or luck into, but the translation of ideas into action. They describe innovation as a personal skill that can be learned, developed and then extended into an organization. This last point is crucial; having good ideas is one thing, but in most enterprises there's a big gap between ideation and turning ideas into products or services. As Dunham told an interviewer, "Invention is creating something new; innovation is getting people to adopt it." To which Denning adds, "And if we're generating ideas, how come we're not getting these ideas turned into reality?" That's the question that led the two authors to write a book defined by this quote: "Innovation is [the] adoption of new practice in a community." They identify eight non-sequential practices that, done correctly, lead to innovation: sensing, envisioning, offering, adopting, sustaining, executing, leading and embodying. The first two are the main work of invention, the second three are the main work of adoption, and the last three are the environment that nurtures the other practices. "The innovator moves constantly among them," Denning and Dunham write, "refining the results of earlier [actions] after seeing their consequences later. It is better to think of them as being done in parallel rather than in numerical order." By constantly applying and refining these practices to various parts of an organization, the authors argue, the gap between invention and innovation can be closed.
by W. Brian Arthur
We are all engineers. At
least that's an unwritten theme in W. Brian Arthurs' book
by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown
John Seely Brown, along with his co-author Douglas Thomas, has written a compelling and compact case for change in the culture of learning. Sides are sharply drawn with critics demanding change in our system of education, but change to what? The authors have listened, observed, and played with ideas that have led them to a completely new and considered approach, one that needs to be heard broadly. They present us with not an "either, or... " approach, but with a "both, and... " set of ideas that reframe the discussion about what they see as core-learning. And learning, they tell us "that takes place everywhere and continuously". Learning happens when we are open to it, and in unexpected circumstances. It happens thanks to two key elements: the first is a massive information network that provides almost unlimited access and resources to learn about anything; the second is a bounded and structured environment that allows for unlimited agency to build and experiment with things within those boundaries. They tell us that this culture of learning is taking root and transforming the way we think about information, imagination, and play. Given the pace of change in our world, and the networks that are connecting us to each other, Thomas and Seely Brown believe that these ideas will result in major beneficial changes if we are open to embracing the possibilities of a new culture of learning.
by Eric D. Beinhocker
McKinsey & Co. senior advisor Eric Beinhocker takes an explicitly Darwinian approach to the puzzle of wealth creation, giving it the shorthand moniker "complexity economics". The complexity arises from the fact that although trillions of economic decisions are made every day, no single agent is responsible for more than a tiny handful of them:
"There is no benevolent dictator making sure that fish gets from a fisherman in Mozambique to a restaurant in Korea to provide the lunch for a computer worker who makes parts for a PC that a fashion designer in Milan uses to design a suit for an interest-rate futures trader in Chicago. Yet, extraordinarily, these sorts of things happen every day in a bottom-up, self-organized way".
Darwinistically inspired complexity science provides the answer, Beinhocker writes, asserting that billions of people acting in their own self-interest somehow produces an ecosystem that, for the most part, feeds, clothes and warms everyone. Countless people and firms tinker with their business models to maximize returns to themselves; these variations succeed or fail; and successful entities command a larger share of economic resources while over time, unsuccessful ones die out. Although this is not a particularly new idea in economics, Beinhocker advances it by advocating the use of computer simulation to understand which economic patterns tend to produce certain kinds of outcomes, rather than trying to predict a given economic future per se, a task that he sees as hopeless:
"Complexity Economics may not help us better forecast inflation but ... it can potentially help us manage macroeconomic policy more effectively by giving us new insights into the dynamics of the business cycle".
In other words, knowing more about the characteristics, quirks and patterns of your general environment may help you manage better within it. Look at broad patterns of how people and institutions act selfishly and evolve, and you'll generate better analysis than if you get distracted by specifics; the patterns are universal, where the specifics of a case may be misleading or ephemeral.
Edited by Karl H. Pfenninger and Valerie R. Shubik
What is creativity, and what are its
foundations? In this highly
readable and worthy volume of thirteen essays from authors as diverse as
mathematician and fractal pioneer Benoit Mandelbrot, glass artist Dale Chihuly,
developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, and artist and philosopher Francoise
Gilot, we get a kaleidoscopic vision of creativity that is accessible and
insightful. Our particular
favorites in this small volume come from eminent neuroscientist Antonio Damasio
("Some Notes on Brain, Imagination, and Creativity") and composer Bruce Adolphe
("With Music in Mind"). These two
related essays speak to our ability to express ourselves if we use our
imaginations and honestly explore our inner selves. In the first essay, neuroscientist Damasio, author of the
"Great art is unthinkable without this knowledge. But some of my favorite scientists... have this attribute as well".
In our work preparing for the Forum on imagination, creativity, and innovation, we met with several artists and musicians and found other elements that Damasio cites as well-strong working memory and the ability to recognize novel representations-as being present in their skill sets. As designer Ann Pendleton-Jullian mused: "Perhaps all other creativity at some level has to do with what you remember and how it affects what you want to make". Composer Bruce Adolphe complements Damasio when he agrees that a great differentiator is that composers and performers need to have a great working memory and ability to recombine elements; he also tells us that composers do think in sound, and that through a series of exercises we can improve our ability to imagine new sights, sounds, and combinations of elements. Adolphe amazes us in his coda, as he tells us "Music can take place fully in your head; it's something that you can think and hear in your imagination. The emotional truth of a great work of music is inextricably linked to the musician's inner world of imagination and discovery-or to what I call the mind's ear". This is a fascinating book inside the mind.
by Parag Khanna
the past five years the Highlands Forum has taken a look at the dynamics of
power in the relationships among powers and emerging powers. We are not ridding ourselves of the
traditional, linear and discrete construct of peace-crisis-war, but
rather recognizing that the world of the 21st century is a more
subtle, nuanced set of interactions that is well described by
cooperation-competition-conflict, where actors can be in multiple
states simultaneously with other actors. Into this milieu strides Parag Khanna, a featured speaker at Highlands Forum XLIV this year, in which
we discussed failure and collapse in complex systems. In this session he echoed some of the grand explanations he
wrote about in
It describes the world that we find complex and troublesome, interconnected and filled with conditions in hidden corners that can have enormous impact on our welfare. How we learn to accept and navigate this "second world" will tell us much about our future. This is a valuable book worthy of your time.
by Edward Glaeser
Highlands Forum veteran Stewart Brand has written with great foresight
about cities, and in particular the slums of megacities, as being centers of
innovation and sustainability. Joining Brand in this movement with his new book is Harvard economist
Edward Glaeser, who sets out to prove in
by Paul Ormerod
Hot on the heels of secrets for creating innovation and wealth comes Paul Ormerod's meditation on business failure, which he compares with chilling precision to extinctions among biological species:
"Ninety nine point nine nine per cent of all biological species which have ever existed are now extinct. Failure in this context is measured over hundreds of millions of years. On a dramatically shorter time scale, more than 10 per cent of all the companies in America disappear each year. Large and small, from corporate giants to the tiniest one-person business, they fail".
There appears to be an
Iron Law of Failure, Ormerod writes, that confronts even those species and
companies "honed and toned to compete in the struggle for survival."
He proceeds to explain how failures in the social and economic world resemble
their biological cognates, carefully demonstrating that the death of large
organizations such as corporations is nearly as sure as it is for individuals.
In the end, it appears that despite their best attempts at innovation, firms
(and policies and governments and empires) eventually lose the ability to
adequately account for uncertainty, becoming no better suited to changing
landscapes than the dinosaurs were after the Chicxulub meteor hit 65 million
years ago. Fortunately, not all firms die out at once; survivors create new
policies and enterprises that are better adapted to their environments. But
such creation does nothing to disguise the inevitability of eventual failure
for a given firm, policy or government, despite any previous successes. While