by Dave Ingram, executive vice president, Willis RE
Thinking. Thinking about actuarial thinking. Last summer I stumbled on to a 50-year-long argument among psychologists about whether they should use actuarial thinking for their diagnostic work. I was floored. Eventually I shared this story with about 75 actuaries at the summer Academy leadership summit and found that only two people in the room knew of this discussion. Psychologists were discussing whether they should use statistics or rely on expert judgment.
Eventually I agreed to write something for The Actuary about this, but before I started to type, I read about two other totally different thinking processes, heuristics and systems analysis. In the end, I included a discussion of heuristics into “The Evolution of Thinking” (page 24 of the Feb./March issue) and offered to make this actuarial meta-cognition discussion into a three-article series with the help of Neil Cantle. In the April issue, Neil will introduce systems thinking and how actuaries can use it to assist with analysis of complex systems. Last fall, Neil led a team that produced a report titled “A review of the use of complex systems applied to risk appetite and emerging risks in ERM practice”.
Then in the June issue of The Actuary, Neil and I will work to weave all of these stories together to demonstrate how actuaries can recognize that they already use all four modes of thinking and how we can become more efficient and more effective in our professional work by consciously taking advantage of the strengths of each method.
I encourage you to read the article in this month’s issue and share your thoughts below.