Understanding Risk

There's a lot of nonsense about risk and complexity at the moment, notwithstanding the good work by a few people.

Let's remember that at the heart of things there are people, experts, stakeholders, employees and communities. Everybody shares a little bit of information about what has happened, what will happen, what we need to watch out for, and for any given situation, what we need is a multi-level open discussion with everybody involved. The conversation needs to be a structured, balanced, collaborative conversation and, apart from good manners and common sense, if there are tools out there that can help manage these conversations and remember what was last talked about and how things turned out, then we've just about cracked it. If companies, organisations and communities are hierarchical and dictatorial and don't encourage conversations, then sure, use statistics, but it misses the point and wastes a phenomenal resource - the people who share the emerging story. For sure, if I'm going to be tried for a crime then please let it be a fair an unbiased jury and not a statistician controlled by a dictator.

The main way to understand and mitigate risk is to get busy listening. It's not rocket science and like good health is free to all that choose it.
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  • Stuart
    I can see it's easy to get into a rant, as per my first offering. I guess we have to test each hypothesis and I was mindful of my/your "it's all about people" when I opened a link to images from the Hubble telescope yesterday. That set me thinking on my walk home from work. Also linked tho this I was looking at Google's model - based on search words -for global outbreaks of flu, which uncannily follows the actual numbers from the World Health Organisation. A mathematician friend of mine says that if you keep scaling out far enough everything boils down to basic statistics again - as per Google stats. So...I've spent a good few years railing against conventional statistical approaches to risk as being inadequate, but Google and a quick look at the pictures from way-beyond in the cosmos remind me that scale is important too. You can sometimes see "stuff" by zooming-out and sometimes by zooming-in. If your risk is whale size you probably need to ditch the microscope to understand it, and "people" don't always have the ability to get the global perspective - at least perhaps maybe not one person alone. No easy answers I guess, but maybe one of them is to leverage what "people" bring and then find a way of gluing that together into the big picture. Are we on the road to a new product here?
  • Hi Chris,
    I agree...it's all about people ......................ie being understood and gaining understanding that leads to intelligence and then clear identification of risk and appropriate responses.
    Stuart
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