[ Reflections ]

from the Forum

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Looking Back

Highlands Forum Highlights

Dr. Jerry Post, MD, at Highlands Forum XXIII

On the recent 80th birthday celebration of Dr. Jerry Post, MD, we talked with him at length about his storied work as a political psychiatrist pioneering leadership profiles for the CIA for two decades (which included preparing the profiles of Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin for President Carter during the Camp David talks). We also remembered his contributions to the Highlands Forum back to the earliest days with his work on the insider threat in information technology organizations. Jerry reminded of us one particular Forum that he thought deserved a revisit--Highlands Forum XXIII on Risk in Networks held in 2003. We decided to take a look back in the archives and the Highlands audio vault to get a better sense of how those Forum conversations presaged critical events from 2007 to 2013.

Highlands Forum XXIII cover art

First, Dr. Nassim Taleb offered us an insight into the idea of black swan events (prior to publishing his famous book, The Black Swan) and he presented a paper written exclusively for the Forum titled: "The Black Swan: Why Don't We Learn that We Don't Learn?". In completing his book in 2007, Dr. Taleb credited the Forum with the addition the "ludic fallacy" to the Black Swan. But interestingly for us, he engaged in a very interesting conversation with Laurence Zuriff, then a fund manager, and Paul Friedrichs of DISA, on danger and risk in financial networks foreshadowing the financial crisis and market meltdown of 2007-2008. We pulled a short clip from the Highlands audio vault to illustrate some of that conversation.

Paul Friedrichs of DISA at Highlands Forum XXIII

Next, Dr. Post warned of the risks to organizations of the trusted and "dangerous" insider who had access to all of the networks and files of an organization and the relationship of the dangerous insider to the organizational culture, which is an iterative process. How does one establish loyalty in a virtual organization, particularly with many of the critical assets of the organization in the hands of temps and contract employees? We pulled another short clip from the vault to give a flavor of that presentation.

Dr. Nassim Taleb and Mr. Laurence Zuriff at Highlands Forum XXIII

Dr. Nassim Taleb, author of The Black Swan, and Mr. Laurence Zuriff, CFO of Nextline Manufacturing