Newsletter 13

Professor Christensen will be dearly missed. Disruption theory is a concept I think about constantly in the insurance industry. The regulatory framework shields incumbents from true disruptive innovation, but someone will overcome those hurdles and cause a big shake up. For now though, insurtech companies are complacent and heavily focused on the distribution side of insurance. It's a sustaining innovation, and that's being generous. There are much larger and more difficult to reach fruit to be found in the back office of insurance. That is were disruptive innovation will take place. If you haven't read Professor Christensen's The Innovator's Dilemma, you should dedicate some time to read it and contemplate how it applies to your own industry.

Have a great week.



The first week in a while I haven't made it through a full book, but there were some longer videos and podcasts that filled my time.


Some extraordinary episodes from this week:

Anna Khachiyan - Reconstructing The Mystical Feminine From The Ashes Of “The Feminine Mystique” - The Portal

Sir Roger Penrose - Plotting the Twist of Einstein’s Legacy - The Portal

Matthew Benkendorf on Managing Equities - Masters in Business

Barbara Tversky on How the Mind Works - Masters in Business

The Information’s 411 — Initial Private Offering

Escheat Show - Planet Money

Embracing Confusion with Jeff Hunter - The Knowledge Project

How Todd McKinnon of Okta believed (even when he sometimes didn't) in the inevitability of breakout success. - Starting Greatness

Lessons of Greatness: Why Great Ideas Won't Wait - Starting Greatness

When to Zoom in, When to Zoom out - Masters of Scale

Rebecca Kaden – Thesis Driven Investing - Invest Like the Best

Faces, Faces, Faces! - Pessimists Archive



Clayton Christensen, guru of disruptive innovation and Latter-day Saint leader, dies at 67 - It's very sad to see Clayton's passing. If you haven't read The Innovator's Dilemma yet, you should.

The Essential Clayton Christensen Articles - HBR put together some of his top articles. All are valuable and worth your time.

My guiding principles after 20 years of programming - His guiding principles are obviously related to programming, but a lot can be said about generalizing these principles to the actuarial domain.

I went down a John D. Cook rabbit hole. He has a few short post on models and complexity that are worthwhile. Actuaries often fall into this anti-pattern of complexity.

I came across this article on The dark side of expertise. The premise is interesting to think about, but the article misses the mark. Priming has been unreproducible in many repeated studies. If you've read Kahneman's book, you'll note that chapter 4 is entirely dedicated to priming. A more interesting look at expertise is found in this study on physician age and outcomes in elderly patients in hospital in the US. Continuing education is important, and intuition is potentially fallible.

I've mentioned before the importance of actuaries to understand floating-point arithmetic. This is especially important for any actuary in a financial reporting role.

Why you might be more pessimistic when things are actually going well - I tend to think of this as in terms of relativism. When things are going well and something negative happens, the delta is larger than if something positive happens.

The Open-Office Trap - I wonder how much productivity is lost due to the open office in the name of “collaboration”.

That's it for this week.

Are there any topics or concepts you'd like me to write more about? Send any suggestions to

Thanks everyone who sent me links and recommendations this week. If you stumble across something interesting, send it my way! You can send any recommendations to If you haven't done so yet, subscribe to get all my posts delivered directly to your email.