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Here is to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the trouble makers the round pegs in a square hole, the ones who see things differently. They are not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo.You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing that you can't do is ignore them, because they change things. They push the human race forward, and while some may see them a s crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who'll do it. 

Apple Computer Advertising 1997

The Unknown World-Nassim Nicholas Taleb Interview on Business Week

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Too Big To Fail

Nassim Taleb and Charles Tapiero has penned down a new technical article "Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Bear". I am reproducing the article here:

Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1497973
Center for Risk Engineering, New York University Polytechnic Institute Page 1
Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Bear,
and Risk Externalities
Nassim N. Taleb*
Charles S. Tapiero*
This paper examines the risk externalities stemming from the size of institutions. The problem of
excessive risk taking and their potential external consequences are taken as a case example. Assuming
(conservatively) that a firm risk exposure is limited to its capital while its external (and random) losses
are unbounded we establish a condition for a firm to be too big to fail. In particular, expected risk
externalities’ losses conditions for positive first and second derivatives with respect to the firm capital are
derived. Examples and analytical results are obtained based on firms’ random effects on their external
losses (their risk externalities) and policy implications are drawn that assess both the effects of “too big to
fail firms” and their regulation.
Key words: Risk, Externalities, Economies of Scale
• Department of Finance and Risk Engineering, New York University Polytechnic Institute, The
Research Center for Risk Engineering, New York and Brooklyn.

Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1497973
Center for Risk Engineering, New York University Polytechnic Institute Page 2
1. Introduction
“Too Big to Fail” is a dilemma that has plagued economists, policy makers and the public at large. The
lure for “size” embedded in “economies of scale” and Adam Smith factories have important risk
consequences that have not always been assessed or properly defined. Economies of scales underlie the
growth of industrial and financial firms ([6]) to sizes that may be both too large to manage and losses too
large to bear. This is the case for industrial giants such as GM that have grown into a complex and
diversified global enterprise with extremely large failure risk externalities. This is also the case for large
banks that bear risks with systemic consequences that are often ignored and too big to bear. Banks, unlike
industrial firms, draw their legal rights from a common trust, to manage the supply and the management
of money for their own and the common good. Their failure, overflowing into the “Commons”, may thus
far outstrip their internal and direct losses. The losses borne by the “Commons” can be an appreciable
risk externality that banks do not assume. Further, when banks are perceived too big to fail, they may
have a propensity to assume excessive risks to profit in the short term; they may seek to exercise unduly
their market power; rule the “Commons” and price their services unrelated to their costs or quality.
Size may lead such firms to assume leverage risks that are unsustainable. This is the case when banks’
bonuses are indexed to short term performance, at the expense of sustainable performance hard to
quantify risk externalities. Externality is then an expression of market failure. For banks that are too big
to fail, these risk externalities are acute. For example, Frank Rich (The New York Times, Goldman Can
Spare You a Dime, October 18, 2009) has called attention to the fact that “Wall Street, not Main Street,
still rules Washington”. Similarly, Rolfe Winkler (Reuters) pointed out that “Main Street still owns much
of the risk while Wall Street gets all the profits”. Further, a recent study by the National Academy of
Sciences has pointed out to extremely large hidden costs to the energy industry—costs that are not
accounted for by the energy industry, but assumed by the public at large.
Banks and Central Banks rather than Governments, are entrusted to manage responsibly the monetary
policy—not to be used for their own and selfish needs, not to rule the “Commons”, but to the betterment
of society and the supply of the credit needed for a proper functioning of financial markets. A violation
of this trust has contributed to a financial meltdown and to the large consequences borne by the public at
large. In this case, “too big to fail banks” have contributed to an immense negative externality—costs
experienced by the public at large. In this sense, markets with appreciable negative externalities are no
longer efficient, even if we have perfect competition (i.e. complete financial markets). If a firm’s
negative externalities are not compensated by their positive externalities or appropriately regulated, then
their social risks can be substantial. In a recent New York Times article (Sunday Business, section,
October 4, 2009), Gretchen Morgension, referring to a research paper of Dean Baker and Travis
McArthur, indicated the effects of selective failures, letting selected banks grow larger and “subsidized”
at a cost of over 34 Billion dollars yearly over an appreciable amount of time.
Size is no cure to the failure of firms. For example, Fujiara [4], using an exhaustive list of Japanese
bankruptcy data in 1997 (see [2],[3],[5],[8],[10]) has pointed out to firms failure regardless of their size.
Further, since the growth of firms has been fed by debt, the risk borne by large firms seems to have
increased significantly—threatening both the creditor and the borrower. In fact, the growth of size
through a growth of indebtedness combined with “too big to fail” risk attitudes has ushered, has
contributed to a moral hazard risk, with firms assuming non-sustainable growth strategies on the one hand

Center for Risk Engineering, New York University Polytechnic Institute Page 3
and important risk externalities on the other. Furthermore, when size is based on intensely networked
firm (such as large “supply chains”) supply chain risks (see also [15], [16] and [7]) may contribute as well
to the costs of maintaining such industrial and financial organizations. Saito [11] for example, while
examining inter-firm networks noted that larger firms tend to have more inter-firms relationships than
smaller ones and are therefore more dependent, augmenting their risks. In particular, they point out that
Toyota purchases intermediate products and raw materials from a large number of firms; maintaining
close relationships with numerous commercial and investment banks; with a concurrent organization
based on a large number of affiliated firms. Such networks have augmented both dependence and supply
chains risks. Such dependence is particularly acute when one supplier may control a critical part needed
for the proper function of the whole firm. For example, a small plant in Normandie (France) with no
more than a hundred employees could strike out the whole Renault complex. By the same token, a small
number of traders at AIG could bring such a “too big to fail” firm to a bankrupt state. This networking
growth is thus both a result and a condition for the growth to sizeable firms of scale free characteristic
(see also [3],[5]). Simulation experiments to that effect were conducted by Alexsiejuk and Holyst [1]
while constructing a simple model of bank bankruptcies using percolation theory on a network of
cooperating banks (see also [12] on percolation theory). Their simulation have shown that sudden
withdrawals from a bank can have dramatic effects on the bank stability and may force a bank into
bankruptcy in a short time if it does not receive assistance from other banks.
More importantly however, the bankruptcy of a simple bank can start a contagious failure of banks
concluded by a systemic financial failure. As a result, too big to fail and its many associated moral
hazard and risk externalities is a presumption that while driving current financial policy and protecting
some financial and industrial conglomerates (with other entities facing the test of the market on their own
and subsidizing such a policy), can be extremely risky for the public at large.
Size for such large entities thus matters as it provides a safety net and a guarantee by public authorities
that whatever their policy, their survivability is assured at the expense of public funding. The strategic
pursuit of economies of scales can therefore be misleading, based on fallacies that negate the risks of size,
do not account for latent and dependent risks, their moral hazard and significant risk externalities.
The essential question is therefore can economies of scale savings compensate their risks. Such an issue
has been implicitly recognized by Obama’s administration proposals in Congressional committees
calling for banks to hold more capital with which to absorb losses. The bigger the bank, the higher the
capital requirement should be (New York Times, July, 27, 2009, Editorial). However such regulation
does not protect the “commons” from the risk externalities that banks create and the common sustains.
To assess the effects of size and their risk externalities, this paper considers a particular and simple case
based on a firm risk exposure which can lead to a firm’s demise (its capital) and unbounded external
losses for which they assume no consequence. An example is used to demonstrate that such risk exposure
underlying excessive risk taking (motivated by the lure for short term profits) can have accelerating losses
the larger the bank.

Center for Risk Engineering, New York University Polytechnic Institute Page 4
2. Too Big Too Fail and Its Risk Externality.
Given the nature of a speculative position, we assume that the positions has a potential loss probability
distribution bounded above by the firm aggregate capital (its size, consisting of its equity and debt
holdings) or . In some cases, the speculative exposure of trades may be larger
than a firm’s capital. Further, a bank’s loss can have a repercussion on other external losses—the larger
the bank’s loss, the larger the potential external loss. Given a firm’s loss, we let its total loss, including
external losses be given by . As a result, the joint probability distribution of
global financial and firm losses is . A loss resulting
from a firm random exposure of its capital W has thus probability and cumulative distributions:
The effects of size on the aggregate loss are thus a compounded function of the probabilities of losses of
the firm and their external costs. If a firm has a loss whose external consequences (the loss y are
extremely large), then they may be deemed to be “too big to fail” as the negative externalities of its failure
may be too big to bear. In this context, the risks of “too big to fail” firms are similar to “polluters”, the
the greater their risk externalities, the greater their pollution.
The example we consider below assumes a Pareto probability distribution ([9]) for losses conditional on
the bank’s loss. Conditional external losses are bounded below by the bank loss (its capital) and
unbounded above. While, aggregate losses are a mixture probability distribution of the aggregate external
losses. These assumptions result in a fractional hazard rate model bounded by the bank’s capital.
Internal risk exposure (the banks’ capital at risk) is assumed to have an extreme truncated probability to
account for its finite capital at risk. In particular we use a truncated Weibull probability distribution.
Our approach differs from the Copula approach that models co-dependence of losses by the marginal
distribution of each distribution. It also differs from a generalization of the Pareto distribution (or other
probability distributions) that accounts for a potential correlation between the firm and its external losses.
Both such approaches are not be applicable in our case as external losses depend necessarily on the firm
losses but not vice versa. In other words, we assume that external losses are not causal to a bank’s loss
but a bank’s loss is causal to external losses borne by the public at large.
Further, while an inter-temporal framework based on Levy-Wiener processes and fractal diffusion models
can be considered as well, its use is not essential to prove the essential results of this paper. Such an
extension will be considered in a subsequent paper however. The case considered is thus selected for
simplicity and to highlight the effects of a bank’s potential capital loss on its external losses.
Explicitly, let the conditional loss Pareto distribution be:
The loss distribution parameter may be interpreted as the expected loss multiplier “odds” effect for a
given (risk exposure) loss by the bank. The expected external loss is thus . The larger the
“odds” the larger its the risk externalities. For example if a firm loss of 7 Billion dollars has an external
loss of 65 Billion dollars, its parameter is or and .
By the same token since,

Center for Risk Engineering, New York University Polytechnic Institute Page 5
The expected externality multiplier odds effect odds can be further scored and assessed by a logit
distribution. Explicitly, say that:
Then: and with a score defined as a function of both the loss and
economic environmental conditions. A bank whose internal loss is its capital, contribute then to an
expected loss of:
Where is a “Too Big To Bear” index, the larger the index, the larger the external losses and the more
a bank is “too big to fail”. In other words, letting a total capital loss of of 50 Billion dollars, the failure of
the bank’s loss is
Billion dollars.
The unconditional loss probability distribution is then:
The probability of a loss greater than Y and its hazard rate are therefore,
If a firm’s expected external loss is then and if it is too big to fail
then . In this case, the external risks of “size” are nonlinear, growing infinitely as the
bank’s size increases.
For demonstration purposes, say that the probability distribution is a constrained extreme
(Weibull) distribution defined by,
The loss probability distribution and its cumulative distribution function are then:
With expected losses:

Center for Risk Engineering, New York University Polytechnic Institute Page 6
The effects of the firm capital size on the expected losses are thus:
The second derivative leads to:
The condition for a positive second derivative is:
These conditions establish therefore the conditions for an accelerating loss the larger the firm—a loss that
may be far larger than the firm capital loss.

Center for Risk Engineering, New York University Polytechnic Institute Page 7
The purpose of this paper is to indicate that size matters and its risk externalities may be too big to bear—
in which case firm may be too big to fail. Such firms are “polluters” either by design when they overleverage
their financial bets or speculative positions and are struck by a Black Swan [13], [14]. While
capital set aside (such as VaR—V alue at Risk) may be used to protect their internal losses, such
approaches are oblivious to the far morte important risk extrnalities. For this reason, such firms require
far greater attention and far more regulation. Internalizing risk externalities by ever larger firms is in such
cases inappropriate since the moral hazard and the market power resulting from such sizes will be too
great. Similarly, total controls, total regulation, taxation, nationalization etc. are also a poor answer to
deal with risk externalities. Such actions may stifle financial innovation and technology and create
disincentives to an efficicent allocation of money. Coase observed that a key feature of externalities are
not simply the result of one CEO or Bank, but the result of combined actions of two or more parties. In
the financial sector, there are two predominant parties, Banks that are “too big to fail” and the
Government—a stand in for the public. Banks are entrusted rights granted by the Government and
therefore any violation of the trust (and not only a loss by the bank) would justify either the removal of
this trust or a takeover of the bank. A bargaining over externalities would, economically lead to Pareto
efficient solutions provided that banking and public rights are fully transparent. However, the nontransparent
bonuses that CEOs of large banks apply to themselves while not a factor in banks failure is a
violation of the trust signaled by the incentives that banks have created to maintain the payments they
distribute to themselves. For these reasons, too big too fail banks may entail too large too bear risk
externalities. The result we have obtained indicate that this is a fact when banks internal risks have an
extreme probability distribution (as this is often the case in VaR studies) and when external risks are an
unbounded Pareto distribution.
[1] A Aleksiejuk, J.A.Holyst, A simple model of bank bankruptcies, Physica A, 299, 2001, 198-204
[2] L.A.N. Amaral, S.V. Bulkdyrev, S.V. Havlin, H. Leschron, P. Mass, M.A. Salinger, H.E. Stanley,
M.H.R. Stanley , J. Phys I, France, 1997, 621.
[3] J.P. Bouchaud, M. Potters, Theory of Financial Risks and Derivatives Pricing, From Statistical
Physics to Risk Management, 2nd Ed., , 2003, Cambridge University Press.
[4] Y. Fujiwara, Zipf law in firms bankruptcy, Physica A, 337, 2004, 219-230

Center for Risk Engineering, New York University Polytechnic Institute Page 8
[5] D. Garlaschelli, S. Battiston, M. Castri, VDP Servedio, G.Caldarelli, The scale free nature of market
investment network, Physica A, 350, 2005, 491-499
[6] Y. Ijiri, H.A. Simon, Skew distributions and the size of business firms, North Holland, New York,
[7] Konstantin Kogan and Charles S. Tapiero, Supply Chain Games: Operations Management and Risk
Valuation, Springer Verlag, Series in Operations Research and Management Science, (Frederick Hillier
Editor), 2007
[8] K. Okuyama, M. Takayasu, H. Takayasu, Zipf’ss Law in income distribution of companies, Physica
A, 269, 1999, 125-131
[9] V. Pareto, Le cours d’Economie Politique, Macmillan, London, 1896
[10] M.H.R. Stanley, L.A.N. Amaral, S.V. Bulkdyrev, S.V. Havlin, H. Leschron, P. Mass, M.A. Salinger,
H.E. Stanley, Nature, 397, 1996, 804
[11] Y.U. Saito, T. Watanabe and M. Iwamura, Do larger firms have more interfirm relationships,
Physica A, 383, 2007, 158-163,
[12] D. Stauffer, Introduction to Percolation Theory, Taylor and Francis, London and Philadelphia, A,
[13] N.N. Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, Random House, New York and
Penguin Books, London 2008
[14] NN. Taleb, Errors, Robustness, and The Fourth Quadrant, Forthcoming, International Journal of
Forecasting, 2009
[15] C.S. Tapiero, Consumers risk and quality control in a collaborative supply chain, European Journal
of Operations Research, 182, 683–694, 2007
[16] Tapiero, C. S., Risk Finance and Financial Engineering (tentative title), Wiley, 2010, (Forthcoming,
2 volumes)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Poker Face of Wall Street- Scribd

The Poker Face of Wall Street

The Poker Face of Wall Street

I came across this great Book " The Poker Face of Wall Street" by Aaron Brown. It is turning out to be a great read. Incidentally, the foreword is written by Nassim Taleb. So, it automaticaly becomes a must read for all of Taleb's Fans. Here is a little piece from Taleb's foreword to the book:

"One would tend to think that gambling is a sterile activity that is
meant to occupy those who have not much else to do and others
when they have not much else to do. You would also think that there
is a distinction between “economic risk taking” and “gambling,” one
of them invested with respectability, the other treated as a vice and a
product of a parasitic activity."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Black Swan Recommended by Ilya Bogard

Here is an Excerpt from Ilya Bogard's "Lessons In Leadership: How to Instigate and Manage Change", published in Tech Republic.

"The most basic requirement for the success of a change you’re making is that it’s real and is interpreted correctly. This is not only because the change may fail, but because what good is an impeccably executed project if it accomplishes exactly what you should not be doing?


I trust you will agree with me that the world has changed dramatically in this short period of time. Scores of business titans have fallen or are fighting for survival, while opportunistic carpe diem challengers have moved ahead. Change is omnipresent and while some transformations are predictable, others have come from nowhere (for this reason, I recommend reading The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb, a read that is not only thought provoking but also immensely enjoyable).

If you’re in a leadership position, it’s incumbent on you to instigate and manage change within your organization. How do you go about it to ensure success?"

Read the Full Article on http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/tech-manager/?p=1389

About Ilya Bogard:

Ilya Bogorad is the Principal of Bizvortex Consulting Group Inc, a management consulting company located in Toronto, Canada. Ilya specializes in building better IT organizations and can be reached at ibogorad@bizvortex.com or (905) 278 4753.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Myron Scholes' pathetic response to Nassim Taleb

Myron Scholes finally responded, in a pathetic manner, to Nassim Taleb's criticism. With Taleb now being the leader in revolt against the Modern House of Finance and Mathematical Models adopted to measure risk, had this to say about Myron Shcoles: "we have to unmask the charlatans of risk like Myron Scholes".Taleb was quite furious on Scholes. He considers Scholes as the Great Oz because his work on options and derivatives allowed the whole of the financial system to adopt poorly understood products-like the ones that brought AIG down-that hide risk. To Taleb, Scholes' academic work, which enabled the widespread use of complex derivatives, was like 'giving children dynamite.' 'This guy should be in a retirement home doing Sudoku,' Taleb says. 'His funds have blown up twice. He shouldn't be allowed in Washington to lecture anyone on risk.'" Michael Lewis too commented on hazards and harms that the use of Black Scholes Model has brought upon the financial health- "Black-Scholes didn’t work; trillions of dollars’ worth of securities may have been priced without regard to the possibility of crashes and panics. But until very recently, no one has bitched and moaned about this problem too loudly. Lay folk might harbor private misgivings about the clergy, but as lay folk, they are reluctant to express them. Now, however, as the subprime market unravels, the beginnings of a revolt against the church seem to be taking shape".

I had expected that the fathers of Financial Horoscope Models would come up with some decent answer or better still would admit the flaws in their Models with open heart. But, it looks like they dont have the gut and unfortunately still continue to live in fool's paradise. Still sticking to their guns they are not even sophisticated to give a decent reply. All Scholes could say to Taleb's criticism was " If someone says to you, “Go to an old-folks’ home,” that’s kind of ridiculous, because a lot of old people are doing terrific things for society. I never tried sudoku. Maybe he spends his time doing sudoku".

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Legend of Nassim Taleb Part 2

Somewhere on http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com Taleb is pessimistic about any change in the way the global house of finance and public policy operates. This he states as his fear despite the fact that The Black Swan has become an all time Bestselling Book in the fields of Economics or Finance. So I have started some research and trying to assess about the reach of Taleb's teachings and ideas. Further to my earlier post here are some more Books that discuss or incorporate Taleb's Ideas:

1- Derivatives: Models on Models By Espen Gaarder Haug. And here is how Haug describes Nassim: " Nassim Taleb was an original thinker a tail event himself, specializing in tail events. He was also not afraid of sharing his knowledge probably because he knew that human nature and the bonus system in most wall street firms would make most traders ignore his ideas anyway.

2- The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More
By Chris Anderson
3- Traders, guns & money: knowns and unknowns in the dazzling world of derivatives
By Satyajit Das
4- Identifying and Managing Project Risk By Tom Kendrick: The Author calls 'The Black Swans" the most serious problems.
5- Handbook for Surviving the Global Financial Crisis By Barbara Goldsmith. The Book seems to be a guide to survive the hazards of next black swan yet the author seems to have completely ignored what Taleb had to himself said in this regard.


Now that I have started it all, it is hard to stop. But it is becoming evident to me that Taleb and his Books have become a great source of reference for varied fields. I desperately need volunteers to continue and broaden the work.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Legend of Nassim Taleb Part1

Taleb has proven in a very convincing manner as to why the Finance, Economics etc. are pseudo sciences. And why the game Bankers or Quants play i.e. taking large risks based on models or probabilities that do not work in the real world are bound to fail. Most of the critics of Taleb are unfair in that either they havent read the Black Swan or are biased in certain manner or it is their mental models that are hard to change. Taleb's contribution is so immense that it is bringing about a revolution in investment related professions, finance syllabi, management books etc. I am surprised to see how quickly his ideas have been adopted. Here are a few of the examples of books which have incorporated Taleb's Ideas in one way or another, and I am only referring to big ticket authors:

1- When Markets Collide by El Erian
2- Readings in Financial Institution Management by Tom Valentine, Guy Ford
- Sociology and Health: Peter Morall
3- The unthinkable: who survives wen disaster strikes and why by Amanda Ripley
4- Wealthwar and wisdom: Barton Brigg
5- Financial Armageddon: Michael J. Panzer
6- Jump the Curve: 50 essential strategies to help your company stay ahead of the curve
7- Beyond Value at Risk : Kevin Dowd

Taleb's biggest lesson in learning is " To learn the General and not Specific".

Monday, May 4, 2009

Bigger is Not Better

Taleb's Ten Principles to be Black Swan proof were not taken so seriously. Lots of Academics couldnt digest it and criticised these on one ground or another. Now here is Taleb in full technical form in association with Charles Tapiero. They establish why Large Institutions are more vulnerable. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1398102

Monday, April 20, 2009

GQ Magazine May 2009 Issue features Nassim Taleb

I was never interested in Fashion Magazines and perhaps never would be. But this month I had to buy GQ as it features the most infulential Finance and Risk person of our Times; Nassim Taleb. It has a wonderful portrait of Nassim photographed in Davos World Economic Forum and captioned as " THE MAN WHO SAW TOMORROW: NASSIM TALEB, WALKING ALONE PATH AS EVER". Nassim is standing there in the snow underneath a pole light. And there is this line at the bottom of the picture" I am not interestedin money, I wanted to teach the Banks a lesson."

I have uploaded the feature here:


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Nassim Taleb Long Talk on Econ Talk

Excerpt fromt the Interview with Russ Roberts:
complexity cannot tolerate leverage, since no room for error. Since 1980, tripling in leverage, in U.S. and in Europe, ratio of leverage to GDP. High exposure to errors. Commodity prices, similar argument: can have rise in wheat prices in response to very small imbalance in demand, followed by rapid collapse. Not long ago talking about inflation, now talking about deflation. Speculative issue in commodity prices: how much comes from similar mistakes to Greenspan. Globalization has side effects; produces fat tails. In competition, consider two banks, one robust and one not. With globalization, everybody pushed to do outsourcing; concentration of U.S. and German firms outsourcing to, say, Bangalore. Probability of failure low because only one source of randomness. But suppose there is a problem in Bangalore--political, storms--that disrupts communication there? What happens to all these firms? French bank, lost money on a rogue trader. If you had 10 small banks each with 5 billion, wouldn't have a problem because easy to liquidate. With one bank, should a rogue trader happen, his position will be 10 times the size. Assume no linearities in execution cost. Liquidating $50 billion is more costly than 10 times liquidating $5 billion. Lumping makes you more vulnerable to large events. One large error is a lot worse than 10 smaller errors.

Monday, April 6, 2009

One stop for almost all that is there on The Black Swan and Taleb

I came across this great site http://www.theblackswanreport.com . The site is full of great stuff related to Nassim Taleb's work and is updated regularly with latest material. It has lots of Videos, Interviews, articles and links. A wonderful one stop free shop for Taleb's Fans

Monday, March 30, 2009

Nassim Taleb Blasts Myron Scholes

Taleb's Fantastic Quote on Myron Schloes:

"This guy should be in a retirement home doing Sudoku. 'His funds have blown up twice. He shouldn't be allowed in Washington to lecture anyone on risk.'"

Friday, March 27, 2009

Why Could Google Die...

Earlier we had discusses in "From Lean to Googly" the Google Model of Success. The following presentation highlights the why and how of a downfall to the biggest enterprise of all the times.

Monday, March 16, 2009

An Infinite Gold Mine- The Human Brain

Consider the following two statements and just think about the implications:
1- "The problems we have created in the world today will not be solved by the level of thinking that created them"- Einstein

2- The world around us has changed very quickly. This change is undoubtedly the fastest in the history of mankind. The pace of change is so fast that the evolution of our brain and ,as a result, our thinking lags far behind.

Is there a way for us to make our brain and thinking take a quantum leap and make up to this tremendous gap. The human brain is probably the least explored area. The research that has been going on in this area has brought to light new revelations about this few pounds of gray matter. We can never be able to learn at the speed and quantum that we infact are capable of until we learned a bit about the functioning of our brain and how to improve it. Yes there are tons of material, theories, techniques. But 99% of it is outdated. I have recently been exploring a lot and found some excellent compilations. Now, it is again an honour for me to share with you two such books which comprehensively and yet in an entertaining way takes us to the journey to the centre of our brain :) . I have also embedded these here
to save you so,e dollars and a visit to the book shop. Please share with me your thoughts. Following are these two gems:

1- The Art and Science of Common Sense by Karl Albrecht : The Art and Science of Comon Sense

2- The power of Impossible Thinking: The.power.of.Impossible.thinking 0131877283

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Toyota and Google from Lean to Googly

We have all talked a lot, read a lot,thought a lot about Toyota. We have learnt our lessons from Toyota be it production system, innovation, supplychain network or any other business process. And one way or another we always have and will continue to implement the ideas so learnt to our work place. What really inspires me isnt the mere fact that Toyota's market capitalisation is greater than all other car companies put together. Though it is a real wonder in itself, still, what blows my brains is this " Every year Toyota implements 1000,000 new ideas". Unbelievable! 3,000 ideas per day.

Recently I had the honour of discussing the differences in mental models of Japanese Auto Manufacturers and their US Counterparts with David Kilburn who works for one of the Japanese and Stuart Harker a Systems Thinking Practitioner and Consultant on Lean Implementation . Here is the Dialogue" Stuart Harker: So the American car executive failed to see what he was being shown, a typical western trait!

They still haven't learnt, looked at the state they are in now. Toyota have faced this kind of deep recession before - especially during the 70's oil crisis, they suffered, but not to the extent of other car manufacturers.

It will happen again, and they will outperform others again.
Motasim: Yeah they will definitely. It has got a lot to do with structures and mental models.
Stuart Harker:I agree, you can see easily get set in a one right way.
David Kilburn: I agree.
I work in the Japanese auto industry.
Japan have model factories, spotless(5s), efficient(Bekido) and each part made right the first time(chokko) and no waste(muda).
In japan Work is part of their culture

Motasim: Some times I really wonder what these people are made of. So dedicated to their cause. It took Taichi Ohno and his team 20years to perfect the system that is now known as lean. Just imagine- 20 years. Normally people give up in just 20 days. Unfortunately it took others more than 20 years to get to know what had done and still they said it was impossible. Recession is a good thing in that it really makes the reality of one's weaknesses to light. The tide has swamped them all who thought they were the masters of universe and know it all type. As the politics changed after 9/11. Businesses processes would too change in times to come and I hope that they bring prosperity and peace.

David Kilburn: I show visitors our production lines and explain our concepts, as we know it will take 10 years for them to adapt and in that time we will be further ahead, besides we know they wont do it lol."

Now we hav entered into a new age of innovation and economy- a knowledge economy. Along with comes th opportunities and threats of a life time. Those who have their ears, eyes and minds still open can see that the transformation is already sweeping across the globe. The credit goes to Google. In success of the Google are valuable lessons for us all tat can be applied to all sorts of organisations be it tech, publications, manufacturing or financial services. Jeff Jarvis in his remarkable book "What would Google Do?" brings to light "The Google Model". Here is the link to Jeff Jarvis's video presentaion covered by Fora TV.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009


The businesses are facing ever increasing competition. To beat your competition one has to be fast learner, innovative, responsive etc. Every one knows that stuff. Recently I came across a wonderful insight that is very obvious but gets ignored largely. It is my honour to share it with you. Though I have no doubt that most of you have already familiar with it.
The product design, price, features etc., every thing physical, is quickly either copied by the competitors. However, the changes that relate to policy matters take extraordinary long time to be adopted or bettered by the Competitor. Here is an example: Toyota's Just in time Practices took over a decade to get the attention of US Automakers. In "The Presence" Peter Senge narrates the story of a US Auto industry executive who had visited the Toyota facilities in Japan in 80s. He told Senge that the Toyota People had taken them for a "ride" and didnt show them the real plants. When Senge asked why he thought so. The executive replied that "The plants we visited had no inventories at all".