On Black Swans

A portion of the Veil Nebula in the Constellation Cygnus – The Swan.    A “close” neighbor at 2,100 light years distant, the remnant of a long-ago exploded star.    There is reason to believe that such massive and magnificent structures may someday be completely understood mathematically if all the twists and turns of quantum physics, gravitation along with dark matter and energy can be understood together.  All must ride on the back of entropy that relentless condition which drives all to a lower energy state.     Interestingly life seems to reverse entropy, for a time creating order from disorder as it marshals energy and matter in ever more complex organisms.    One such organism – mankind – has a capacity others do not, or at least not to such a large degree – sentience – and with that free will and the ability to decide.         To decide to do good or bad, to create or destroy, to love or to hate – you get the idea.

So, what is the point of this psycho-cosmological ramble.    In business we fret about those natural black swans – hurricanes, earthquakes and pandemics – and certainly strategies must be in place to mitigate the effect of these.  These events are ultimately predictable, following natural laws embedded in creation. But the real damage comes from those truly unpredictable black swans we create ourselves – those capricious swans that come from human decisions.     Wars, bad public policy, colossal business miscalculations, experiments gone awry, rogue governments and old-fashioned greed come to mind.    Often as we have seen recently such un-natural swans come in response to those of the natural variety.  

If this generation of business leaders has learned anything it is the importance of having strategies that are flexible and resilient to the truly unpredictable – namely, the decisions of others in business and government.  Strategies that can bend and not break and better still pivot to profit from yet unseen opportunities.   As I remember from a long-ago training class, “Change is inevitable. You can be its victim or its architect”.  

(Image taken last week in West Texas.   Best of thirty 2-minute images stacked and processed with various software)

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