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Follies of History

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[edit] The March of Folly, From Troy to Viet Nam

Barbara Tuchman, winner of two Pulitzers and grand generator of readable history, published “The March of Folly, From Troy to Viet Nam” in 1984. The book is a meditation on the historical recurrence of governments pursuing policies evidently contrary to their own interests. Various case studies focus on Troy, the Renaissance Popes provoking Protestantism, the British losing their American colonies, and the United States loss in Vietnam.

“The power to command frequently causes failure to think,” concludes Tuchman who sees that folly is a child of power.

Tuchman shows in her case studies that the leaders in power in these famous historical events were advised several times by their own advisors to not pursue their ultimate course of action. But despite the advice of trusted advisors they proceed to make decisions that proved to be historical disasters, just as their advisors had predicted.

Everyone in a position of power and authority that makes decision dependent on advice from others is in the same position as these famous leaders. Being aware of this human weakness and tendency is half the battle. The other half is designing an information gathering and decision making system in your organization that minimizes mistakes.

"The Political Brain-The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation" by Drew Westen provides one reason for these famous "follies of history". “The idea of the mind as a cool calculator that makes decisions by weighing the evidence bears no relation to how the brain actually works”, according to the research by Dr. Drew Westen. He uses this thought as a takeoff point in his book, “The Political Brain.” He asserts that (page xv) “The political brain is an emotional brain.”

[edit] Author

The author of this page is Terry Gardiner

Terry Gardiner is the founder and President of Silver Lining Seafoods and NorQuest Seafoods - a medium size Alaska seafood processing companies; and currently Board member of the Anvil Corporation, an employee owned company specializing in oil and gas engineering.

His co-operative experiences include member director of the Commercial Fishermen Co-operative association; creation of legislation for the Alaska Commercial Fishing and Agriculture Bank; and advisor to the US Dept of Health and Social Services for the state Health CO-OPs.

Terry served ten years as a member of the Alaska House of Representatives -several legislative committee chairmanships, Speaker of the House, Chairman of the Alaska Criminal Code Commission and board member on various state and federal boards and commissions.

His non-profit experiences include National Policy Director for the Small Business Majority in Washington DC; working with the Herndon Alliance and ForTerra.

Terry authored the leadership book, "Six-Word Lessons to Build Effective Leaders: 100 Lessons to Equip Your People to Create Winning Organizations".



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