Swans, Swine, and Swindlers: Coping with the Growing Threat of Mega-Crises and Mega-Messes

Swans, Swine, and Swindlers: Coping with the Growing Threat of Mega-Crises and Mega-Messes

Swans, Swine, and Swindlers: Coping with the Growing Threat of Mega-Crises and Mega-Messes

Swans, Swine, and Swindlers: Coping with the Growing Threat of Mega-Crises and Mega-Messes

Synopsis

Swans, Swine, and Swindlers addresses a core, contemporary question: What steps can we take to better anticipate and manage mega-crises, such as Haiti, Katrina, and 9/11?

This book explores the concept of "messes." A mess is a web of complex and dynamically interacting, ill-defined, and/or wicked problems; their solutions; and our conscious and unconscious assumptions, beliefs, emotions, and values. The roots of messes can be classified as Swans (the inability to surface and test false assumptions and mistaken beliefs), Swine (the inability to confront and manage greed, hubris, arrogance, and narcissism), and Swindlers (the inability to confront, detect, and stop unethical and corrupt behavior). Working systematically with this concept and these classifications, authors Can M. Alpaslan and Ian I. Mitroff reveal that all crises are messes; one must learn to understand and manage them as such.

They then provide tools and frameworks that readers can use to more effectively deal with the crises of today and tomorrow. Drawing on ideas from research areas as diverse as human development, philosophy, rhetoric, psychology, and high reliability organizations, this book aims to be the definitive guide for a new era in crisis management. Therefore, it is a must-have for practitioners, scholars, and students who study and deal in real-life crises.

Excerpt

Testifying to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, the body established
by Congress to determine the causes of the Wall Street debacle, Lloyd C.
Blankfein, the chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs, drew most
of the fire.

Mr. Blankfein parried repeated questions over his bank’s extraordinary
profits and salaries. At one point, when he likened aspects of [the great
financial crisis] to a “hurricane” and similar acts of God [that is, natural
disasters], the commission’s chairman, Phil Angelides, a Democrat and
former California state treasurer, cut in to say, “Acts of God, we’ll exempt.
These were acts of men and women.”

— SEWELL CHAN, New York Times, January 14, 2010

THE POTENTIAL IMPACT OF CRISES caused or exacerbated by humans is increasing exponentially. As the quote above suggests, the current financial crisis was not an act of God; it was an act of men and women. So are all crises. And there are at least three major human causes of crises.

Swans refers to false assumptions and mistaken beliefs in particular, and the inability to manage assumptions and beliefs in general . . .

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