The leadership of ‘Smart Moderation’

Barack Obama’s inauguration speech yesterday could be said to be an exercise in ‘Smart Moderation’ see below, promising a 21st Century version of Winston Churchill’s ‘Blood, Toll, Tears and Sweat” speech. Hinting at the enormity of the task facing us but failing to enunciate it as clearly as Churchill.

I say to the House as I said to ministers who have joined this government, I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many months of struggle and suffering.

You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory at all costs – Victory in spite of all terrors – Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.  13 May 1940

This Blog sees the need to enunciate the task clearly;

Firstly, the need to recognise that we have failed to educate ourselves to evalute the risks and possible downside consequences of our decisions.

Secondly, the need  to pour all our effort and resources into identifying all those processes that cannot be part of a low carbon future and eliminating them, as they are as surely our ‘enemy’  in ‘Keeping Ahead of the Oil Curve’  as any other foe we feel we have to face, and

Thirdly, the need to toll to continually reduce the ‘resource intensity’ of those processes that remain. Only then is there the chance of reaching the ‘Broad Sunlit Uplands’ that Churchill speaks of in his ‘Battle of Britain’ speech. 18 Jun 1940

We are at war – at war with humanity’s seemingly insatiable desire to consume.



The leadership virtue of smart moderation

Kai-Alexander Schlevogt   |  Wed, 01/21/2009 3:32 PM  |  Management

Many leaders forgo the chance of attaining true greatness — and the prospect of being immortalized by meritorious admirers — by going too far. To avoid blotting their copybook, men of premier rank must master the art of what I call “smart moderation”.

Empathically, I do not advocate unconditional restraint. I am not touting trifling objectives that can be easily attained. Nor do I recommend constantly trying to please everybody and routinely opting for compromises. This truth is worthy of acceptance…………………………….

Perform probabilistic analysesNuanced and probabilistic thinking is well-entrenched in science. Yet instead of systematically moving along a mental continuum, many rulers stubbornly use binary scales, classifying measures simply as either “fantastic” or “horrible” in an extemporaneous manner. A torch-bearer must be honest and assess the likelihood of prospective gains, which, to his dismay, he may find out to be low. At the same time, he must calculate the probability of undesirable outcomes. Even many innovations that are scientifically validated do not merit unconditional approval. For example, numerous drugs have been approved even though experiments established a residual likelihood of complications occurring. Doctors therefore need to exercise caution when deciding whether to prescribe such ­medicine.


Prudent commanders also must consider the maximum damage of a move they are pondering. It is of paramount importance to imagine unlikely negative super-events. For example, if the worst outcome is the destruction of your company, the “maximum damage coefficient” is non-trivial even if the likelihood of such an event is comparatively low.

Complete article at


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