ABOUT US

C.A. Consulting, LLC was founded because the "real world" isn't standardized, and all too often isn't even predictable.  Standardized models, which are based upon statistical norms, simply cannot provide optimal solutions to  individualized problems, which are riddled with anomalies. This is as true of standardized approaches to strategic planning (universal protocols, boiler plate scripts, and fill-in-the-blank templates and diagrams) as it is to standardized approaches to professional development (generic curricula, teaching scripts, and standardized assessments).  

 

Your organization is unique.  Your environment is unique.

Your staff is unique.  And you are unique.

 

C.A. Consulting, LLC will help your organization flourish within your niche!

THE MEANING OF THE "BLACK SWAN"

Menacing.  Foreboding.  Malevolent. Many people today mistakenly believe the "black swan" metaphor exclusively refers to something to be feared.  While Tchaikovsky's trope of black and white representing good and evil in his 1877 ballet Swan Lake had relatively limited cultural impact, unfortunately the 2010 cinema thriller adaption Black Swan broadly popularized the negative connotation.  From its inception to Western culture at least two thousand years prior, however, the black swan metaphor was always used instead to refer to something unusual or entirely unexpected, independently of any particular value judgment.

If you’ve never seen one in real life, a black swan is a stunning creature.  I will never forget the first time I encountered a pen in the midst of a bevy of white swans, and how her obsidian feathers somehow gleamed more brightly in the sunlight than all of her fair-feathered cousins.  Although I was surprised to see it, I had already known about the existence of black swans. Imagine the surprise of the Dutch explorers who were the first Westerners to encounter this previously "mythical" creature!

Because all available evidence to Europeans for thousands of years indicated that swans have white feathers only, Western civilization prior to the seventeenth century rationalized that all swans must be white.  In fact, the first century Roman poet and satirist, Juvenal, originally coined the widely used expression “a rare bird in the lands, and very much like a black swan,” meaning that something in fact was nonexistent, impossible, or mythical.  An equivalent expression today might be a reference to unicorns, or perhaps “when pigs fly.”

After the discovery of actual black swans in Australia in the 1600s, however, the meaning of the expression changed entirely.  By the nineteenth century, philosopher John Stuart Mill used the allusion to demonstrate the problem of induction and the principle of falsification.  Simply stated, any empirical statement or claim of a universal truth, along with any resulting propositions or conclusions inferred or drawn from it, can be disproven by the discovery of a single exception or instance to the contrary of that original premise or postulate.

With the dawning of the new millennium, though, the meaning of the black swan expression shifted yet again.  In 2001 statistician and scholar Nassim Nicholas Taleb re-popularized the allusion as a reference to massive impact events that are prospectively unpredictable and yet retrospectively rationalizable.  In other words, the science and mathematics of predictive modeling focuses on norms and data patterns in order to make reasonable, probable predictions. By necessity, however, these models diminish the importance and validity of outliers, whereas these anomalous data points are what actually cause all truly sudden, significant, and “unpredictable” changes.  In this sense, norms are irrelevant, while anomalies are critical as the source of “black swan events." As Taleb succinctly asserted, “and the black swan is what we leave out of simplification."  

Over the two thousand year span from Juvenal to Taleb, ironically, the allusion to a black swan has thus come to imply just the opposite of its original intent, while still resting upon the same underlying principle.  A “black swan” is no longer about the certainty of what is known but rather about the uncertainty of what is possible. And just because you’ve never seen a black swan no longer means they don’t actually exist. Still, the abiding principle remains:  a black swan is that astonishing possibility you imagine in the darkness, yet fitfully fades from consciousness with the light of day.

In fact, chances are your organization is blinded to its own beautiful plume of obsidian feathers shining in the midst of the bevy of white swans; c.a. consulting, LLCwould be honored to help you develop the reveal.  Contact us to explore the possibilities.

RANDY J. BACHMEIER, Ed.D., PRINCIPAL

After fifteen years’ experience in higher education administration, including extensive state, federal, and privately funded grants and sponsored programs, Randy was inspired to pursue his lifelong dream of full-time teaching, writing, and consulting.  His consulting venture is aptly named for this “black swan” (Cygnus atratus) event, but more importantly conveys his personal commitment to providing customized, transformation-oriented services.  Randy holds a doctorate in educational psychology, a master’s degree in learning and development, and a bachelor’s degree with majors in English, history, and accounting and finance.  Prior to his experience in higher education, Randy acquired valuable experience working as a journalist, in sales and retail management, and as a teacher.

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