Flirting with disaster : why accidents are rarely accidental /
Marc Gerstein with Michael Ellsberg ; foreword and afterword by Daniel Ellsberg.
imprint
New York : Union Square Press, c2008.
description
xi, 340 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
ISBN
1402753039 (hardcover), 9781402753039 (hardcover)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
added author
imprint
New York : Union Square Press, c2008.
isbn
1402753039 (hardcover)
9781402753039 (hardcover)
contents note
The bystanders among us -- Human biases and distortions -- Understanding uncertainty : why did so many people bet against Katrina? -- Space Shuttle Challenger : cold, warm, and hot causes of disasters -- Chernobyl, faulty design, and the interplay of humans and technology -- The Vioxx disaster and BP : the seduction of profits -- When all the backups failed : how American F-15s accidentally shot down two U.S. Army Black Hawks -- Butterfly wings and stone heads : how complexity influences catastrophe in policy decisions -- The collapse of Arthur Andersen : the role of organizational culture -- When countries go bankrupt : the prisoner's dilemma writ large -- What have we learned? What can we do? -- Advice for leaders.
abstract
"Despite warnings of impending disaster, preemptive action is rarely taken by those who have the ability to do so. How do smart, high-powered people, leaders of global corporations, national institutions, even nations, often get it so wrong? While most investigations focus on the technical causes of disaster, Flirting With Disaster examines the psychological, social, and cultural impediments to whistle-blowing, showing what we can do to reduce the possibility of disasters happening at all"--Publisher's website.
catalogue key
6940098
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 313-328) and index.
A Look Inside
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Wall Street Journal, June 2008
Reference & Research Book News, February 2009
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Long Description
Chernobyl and Katrina. C"hallenger "and "Columbia,"" "BP and Vioxx. The Iraq War. Were these unavoidable misfortunes that no one could possibly have imagined? Hardly. All of them were disasters that could have been prevented, or whose damaging repercussions could have been mitigated. Despite warnings of impending disaster, preemptive action is rarely taken by those who have the ability to do so. How do smart, high-powered people, leaders of global corporations, national institutions, even nations, often get it so wrong? While most investigations focus on the technical causes of disaster, "Flirting With Disaster" examines the psychological, social, and cultural impediments to whistle-blowing, showing what we can do to reduce the possibility of disasters happening at all. Analyzing such phenomena as bystander behavior and the butterfly effect, amid a series of instructive case studies--not only the aforementioned shuttle crashes, natural disasters, and industrial accidents, but also Arthur Andersen's shady accounting at Enron; the 1994 Mexican peso crisis that nearly caused an international monetary meltdown; and the American sub-prime lending crisis that emerged in August 2007, revealing the country's unhealthy dependence on consumer credit--Marc Gerstein, an organizational psychologist," "urges a re-evaluation of the timidity, distorted thinking, errors of judgment and self-serving conduct that result in disasters from the boardroom to the halls of academe to the Oval Office. Daniel Ellsberg, renowned and respected for releasing the Pentagon Papers, offers a foreword and a powerful afterword addressing what happens "When Leaders are the Problem." "Flirting With Disaster" is a must-readfor those who want to foster truth-telling in their organizations, and head off-disasters in the making. At once alarming, entertaining and hopeful, this is a book that offers very real and practical lessons for everyday life. Marc Gerstein holds a Masters and Ph.D. in Management from the Sloan School of Management, MIT. He has taught at Columbia Business School and Sloan. He currently heads Marc Gerstein Associates, Ltd., a management consulting firm. His writing on strategy and organizational dynamics has been published by the "Sloan Management Review," the "Journal of Business Strategy, "and "Stanford"" University," Michael Ellsberg" "is a developmental editor who did extensive work on his father Daniel Ellsberg's bestseller "Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers," Daniel Ellsberg worked on the top secret study of U.S. decision-making in Vietnam, later known as the Pentagon Papers. He is a lecturer, writer and activist on the dangers of the nuclear era, government wrongdoing, and the need for patriotic whistleblowing.
Main Description
We tend to think of disasters as uncontrollable acts of nature or inevitable accidents. But are such incidents unavoidable or ever truly accidental ? The authors of this remarkable book say we actually do have the power to prevent tragedies such as the flooding from Hurricane Katrina, the death toll from dangerous medicines like Vioxx, and the explosion of the Space Shuttle Columbia. Marc Gerstein and Michael Ellsberg insist that disasters need not be inevitable if we learn from history, prepare carefully for the worst case, and speak out when we see danger looming. This revelation makes their compelling study extremely valuable for readers in business, government, medicine, academiaindeed all walks of life. Flirting with Disasterwill do for catastrophe whatBlinkdid for intuition, andThe Black Swan did for probability : provide a popular audience with an engaging, in-depth view of a complex and important topic. Gerstein and Ellsberg examine the culture of institutions: why even people of good will and inside knowledge underestimate risk; feel psychologically incapable of averting tragedy and unable to pick up the pieces afterward; and don't come forward forcefully enough to head off catastrophe . They also celebrate those who go beyond the call of duty to save others, including Dr. David Graham of the FDA who courageously stood up to reveal Vioxx's deadly effects . One such whistleblower contributes both a foreword and an afterword: Daniel Ellsberg, renowned and respected for releasing the Pentagon Papers. Flirting with Disasterprovides a pathway for those who want to foster truthtelling in their organization and head off disasters in the making. At once alarming, entertaining, and hopeful, it offers readers very real and practical lessons for everyday life.
Main Description
Chernobyl and Katrina. ChallengerandColumbia. BP and Vioxx. The Iraq War. Were these unavoidable misfortunes that no one could possibly have imagined? Hardly. All of them were disasters that could have been prevented, or whose damaging repercussions could have been mitigated. Despite warnings of impending disaster, preemptive action is rarely taken by those who have the ability to do so. How do smart, high-powered people, leaders of global corporations, national institutions, even nations, often get it so wrong? While most investigations focus on the technical causes of disaster,Flirting With Disasterexamines the psychological, social, and cultural impediments to whistle-blowing, showing what we can do to reduce the possibility of disasters happening at all. Analyzing such phenomena as bystander behavior and the butterfly effect, amid a series of instructive case studiesnot only the aforementioned shuttle crashes, natural disasters, and industrial accidents, but also Arthur Andersen's shady accounting at Enron; the 1994 Mexican peso crisis that nearly caused an international monetary meltdown; and the American sub-prime lending crisis that emerged in August 2007, revealing the country's unhealthy dependence on consumer creditMarc Gerstein, an organizational psychologist,urges a re-evaluation of the timidity, distorted thinking, errors of judgment and self-serving conduct that result in disasters from the boardroom to the halls of academe to the Oval Office. Daniel Ellsberg, renowned and respected for releasing the Pentagon Papers, offers a foreword and a powerful afterword addressing what happens "When Leaders are the Problem." Flirting With Disasteris a must-read for those who want to foster truth-telling in their organizations, and head off-disasters in the making. At once alarming, entertaining and hopeful, this is a book that offers very real and practical lessons for everyday life. Marc Gersteinholds a Masters and Ph.D. in Management from the Sloan School of Management, MIT. He has taught at Columbia Business School and Sloan. He currently heads Marc Gerstein Associates, Ltd., a management consulting firm. His writing on strategy and organizational dynamics has been published by theSloan Management Review, theJournal of Business Strategy,andStanfordUniversity.Michael Ellsbergis a developmental editor who did extensive work on his father Daniel Ellsberg's bestsellerSecrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.Daniel Ellsbergworked on the top secret study of U.S. decision-making in Vietnam, later known as the Pentagon Papers. He is a lecturer, writer and activist on the dangers of the nuclear era, government wrongdoing, and the need for patriotic whistleblowing.
Main Description
We tend to think of disasters as uncontrollable acts of nature or inevitable accidents. But are such incidents unavoidable or ever truly accidental? The authors of this remarkable book say we actually do have the power to prevent tragedies such as the flooding from Hurricane Katrina, the death toll from dangerous medicines likeVioxx, and the explosion of the Space Shuttle Columbia. Marc Gerstein and Michael Ellsberg insist that disasters need not be inevitable if we learn from history, prepare carefully for the worst case, and speak out when we see danger looming. This revelation makes their compelling study extremely valuable for readers in business, government, medicine, academiaindeed all walks of life. Flirting with Disasterwill do for catastrophe whatBlinkdid for intuition, andThe Black Swandid for probability: provide a popular audience with an engaging, in-depth view of a complex and important topic. Gerstein and Ellsberg examine the culture of institutions: why even people of good will and inside knowledge underestimate risk; feel psychologically incapable of averting tragedy and unable to pick up the pieces afterward; and don't come forward forcefully enough to head off catastrophe. They also celebrate those who go beyond the call of duty to save others, including Dr. David Graham of the FDA who courageously stood up to reveal Vioxx's deadly effects. One such whistleblower contributes both a foreword and an afterword: Daniel Ellsberg, renowned and respected for releasing the Pentagon Papers. Flirting with Disasterprovides a pathway for those who want to foster truthtelling in their organization and head off disasters in the making. At once alarming, entertaining, and hopeful, it offers readers very real and practical lessons for everyday life.
Table of Contents
Foreword: Learning from Past Disasters, Preventing Future Onesp. vii
Introductionp. 1
The Bystanders Among Usp. 11
Human Biases and Distortionsp. 23
Understanding Uncertainty: Why Did So Many People Bet Against Katrina?p. 50
Space Shuttle Challenger: Cold, Warm, and Hot Causes of Disastersp. 66
Chernobyl, Faulty Design, and the Interplay of Humans and Technologyp. 92
The Vioxx Disaster and BP: The Seduction of Profitsp. 126
When All the Backups Failed: How American F-15s Accidentally Shot Down Two U.S. Army Black Hawksp. 146
Butterfly Wings and Stone Heads: How Complexity Influences Catastrophe in Policy Decisionsp. 170
The Collapse of Arthur Andersen: The Role of Organizational Culturep. 192
When Countries Go Bankrupt: The Prisoner's Dilemma Writ Largep. 207
What Have We Learned? What Can We Do?p. 240
Advice for Leadersp. 270
Afterword: When the Leaders Are the Problemp. 285
Acknowledgmentsp. 295
Notesp. 299
Sourcesp. 313
About the Authorsp. 329
Indexp. 331
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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