I am in Santiago, consulting on a new project, trying to help make a decision about alternative mining and waste disposal methods.
We have undertaken a formal Risk Assessment, and now have to decide what the collated opinions of various experts means.
I care not for the process. My old (65 year guts) tell me one thing. The formal process concludes another. In spite of the so-called wisdom of the group (committee) and its decision and recommendations, I remain unconvinced and sceptical.
Somehow the collective deliberations has, in my opinion, come to the wrong conclusion. The “wisdom” of the committee is wrong, in my opinion, and may, if uncorrected, lead us astray.
Why is this? I believe it is because they have delved too deep into the details and neglected to keep in view the “big picture.”
The detailed examination has been dictated by the power of the managers who are part of the deliberative group. Their personal perspectives, prejudices, and fears, have swayed the process to the point where they have pushed analysis to non-analysis and mere validation of personal preference & gut-feel. And they have achieved this by an over-emphasis on details at the expense of the ” big picture.”
I have often being accused of making decisions on the basis of the big picture and in the absence of facts or details. I stand correctly accused. But at my age, I have seen too many detailed analyses, based on an absences of valid facts to be currently persuaded. Too often I have seen the opinions & prejudices of the powerful, tarted up as detailed facts, to be intimidated by so-called experts.
Fact is as follows:
- Get all the facts that you can possibly get.
- Do all the tests the budget allows.
- Do all the calculations and analyses possible.
- Identify the big picture—-and alternative big pictures.
- Establish what you think is the most likely scenario—–but also identify plausible/feasible alternative scenarios.
- Evaluate the extent to which alternative “big pictures” are consistent or at odds with the facts and the details.
- Now decide and proceed.
My point is that in the absence of facts, details, and deep probing, you cannot postulate big pictures. And you cannot compare alternatives unless you have big pictures and grand concepts. And you had better not compare alternatives until you are in full command of facts, fancies, theories, concepts, ideals, schemes, and bird’s-eye-views of reality.
I could go on and expand this idea, these philosophies, the correct approaches. But I need rest so that I can argue the issue tomorrow. Meanwhile enjoy the pictures. They were taken today in Santiago.