Confirmation bias II

What keeps coming up for me when I think about recent news is that we are all victims of confirmation bias (yes, including scientists!). In certain contexts, sexism and racism simply appear reasonable to our susceptible brains. I am grateful for the work of experts who have tried to help everyone learn more about these issues and overcome some of these biases — but I caution that very, very few of us are willing to change our minds in an environment of hostility, including subtle academic mockery. It does not work to force or shame people into accepting ideas like equality and diversity.

It is possible to cultivate authentic empathy with those who disagree with us. For example, under what situations would you be drawn towards the ideas of white supremacy? It is easy to call others “evil” and pretend that you are somehow better-than. It is much more difficult, and much more healing, to look deeper into your own vulnerable, human self.

Visions for possibility

“A vision becomes a framework for possibility when [it] is free-standing — it points neither to a rosier future, nor to a past in need of improvement. It gives over its bounty now. If the vision is ‘peace on earth’, peace comes with its utterance. When ‘the possibility of ideas making a difference’ is spoken, at that moment ideas do make a difference.”

-Rosamund & Ben Zander, 
The Art of Possibility
(p. 169-170)

Spreadsheet Errors II

I’ve posted about this before, but it continues to amaze me.

“More than 90 percent of corporate spreadsheets contain material errors. The European Spreadsheet Risk Group was set up in 1999 purely for the purpose of addressing issues of spreadsheet integrity. [The] disastrous consequences of uncontrolled use of spreadsheets are always disturbing, and make for somewhat gruesome reading. [I] believe that errors in spreadsheets are a regular occurrence in most organizations.”

-Danielle Stein Fairhurst,
Financial Modeling in Excel (for Dummies) (2017, p.23-26)

Corporate responsibility

The ultimate business response to the need for sustainability:

Be generous by creating an enterprise that is regenerative by design, giving back to the living systems of which we are a part. More than an action on a checklist, it is a way of being in the world that recognises that we have a responsibility to leave the world in a better state than we found it. It calls for creating enterprises whose core business helps to reconnect nature’s cycles, and that gift as much as they can.”

“The most profound act of corporate responsibility for any company today is to rewrite its corporate by-laws, or articles of association, in order to redefine itself with a living purpose, rooted in regenerative and distributive design, and then to live and work by it.”

-Kate Raworth, Doughnut Economics (2017)



Outside the model

“The most important assumptions of a model are not in the equations, but what’s not in them; not in the documentation, but unstated; not in the variables on the computer screen, but in the blank spaces around them.”

-John Sterman
(as quoted in Kate Raworth, Doughnut Economics)