Black Swan

« Back to Glossary Index

A Black Swan is Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s* term for an event that meets three characteristics:

  1. it happens rarely (perhaps it has never been observed before)
  2. it has an extreme impact, which can be positive or negative in consequence
  3. it is not predictable but in retrospect is easily explained

This type of risk is a problem for us humans because we are hardwired to see the normal or the average As a result, we get blindsided by Black Swans with surprising regularity. Taleb’s warning is that we need to be conscious of the potential for Black Swans in our risk
identification processes.

Examples: Taleb’s examples include the 9/11 terrorist attack, and the rise of Hitler and World War II.

* Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, 2nd ed. (New York: Random House, 2010).

« Back to Glossary Index

Learn about our other services

For more information, contact:

Mary Drotar, Partner

Strategy 2 Market, Inc.


or complete this contact form

Scroll to Top