The Turkey Problem

The turkey is absolutely convinced that the butcher loves it: It is being fed, housed and taken care of for about 20 months. Then Thanksgiving arrives, and suddenly the world of the turkey changes dramatically in an instant.

Nassim Taleb calls this the Turkey Problem.

The life of the turkey tells us that it’s very dangerous to extrapolate the past to predict the future. Yet, it’s a very common approach in our professional wold. For example, we all know the typical sophisticated process for the new annual department budget: Let’s go for our existing budget and add x%.

That’s not the only issue, though. The life of the turkey has an another, even more disturbing implication: Ruin occurs for the turkey at the very moment that it has the maximum amount of solid data that everything is fine!

If you want to make your team and your organization more robust, resilient, and ready to deal with the next crisis, you therefore need to ask a deeply uncomfortable and almost paranoid question: Where are we running on autopilot in our organization and everything is well? It’s precisely there that you have the biggest risk to become a turkey….

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