What Is Preventable Surprises?


Preventable Surprises is a project primarily for concerned and informed individuals who reject the idea that the corporate and market crises that we increasingly experience are disconnected and unavoidable. Rather, participants  believe that the investment community has a pivotal role and could become a much bigger part of the solution especially if prompted by civil society and regulators.

With all the problems we already face, and the new ones we will face in the coming years, we see great potential for bringing together informed individuals of good-will via the mechanism of a shared diagnostic and therapeutic framework and initially at least, as a wiki-community via this website. Often the challenge will be to prioritise and phase proposals for change which have already been elaborated, and to build consensus support despite the opposition of vested interests. Other times, the need will be for new thinking and fresh proposals.

Whatever the particular situation, we are convinced that informed insiders together with informed outsiders can better mitigate or prevent the events which decision-makers today appear so unable and or so unwilling to address properly.

The recent corporate and financial system failures are not isolated events, but rather linked together by 6 common drivers: regulatory capture, organisational learning disabilities, narrow conception of risk, leadership failures, weak concern for negative externalities, and shareholder value fundamentalism.

From this diagnostic framework arises a framework for prevention or mitigation which links changes in how the financial system operates with parallel changes by regulators and civil society.  Together, we can bring about the outcomes we need.

By raising awareness of how we are all co-creators of these failures, we anticipate increasing numbers of informed individuals of good faith will see that together, we have the power to make a difference, and step up to the challenge and act as “positive deviants” to trigger collaborative action.

Our analytical model has been developed by such a study of the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Thus we anchor our thinking and recommendations firmly in the real world, whilst simultaneously being as ambitious as needed to prevent or at least substantially mitigate these deeply damaging “preventable surprises”.


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