Guest Post by Ed Perkins (first posted on CERM ® RISK INSIGHTS – reposted here with permission)
Risk Management is like vitamins; we know it is good for us, but we don’t always want to take it.
Why? Human nature is to avoid discomfort and unpleasantness. What does this have to do with risk? What is the real impact of consequence of a Risk? Why do we not want to face it? If you think about it, it is the underlying of risk – it is Fear.
Fear is what keeps you up at night. Now we often don’t call it Fear – we use softer terms like anxiety, worry, unease. Fear is something to be avoided. Fear is the nightmare. Men, stereotypically, are not supposed to react to Fear. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be scared.
An interesting opinion piece in the NY Tines titled “This Is Your Brain on Metaphors” discusses among other things, the fact the the human brain doesn’t distinguish between reality and the literal with metaphor and the symbolic. So it doesn’t matter if the Risk is “real” or “likely”, the brain treats them all the same.
So what is an executive or manager to do? Don’t let them know you’re afraid. Don’t admit there are Risks. Carry on with Business as Usual. Any wonder Risk and risk-based decision-making is a tough thing to sell to management? According to Wikipedia, a boogeyman is “an amorphous imaginary being used by adults to frighten children into compliant behaviour.” VUCA, terrorism, disaster, nightmare consequences – they’re just the latest boogeyman. Why do I (executive, manager) have to spend scarce resources dealing with this (Risk) boogeyman? I am not Afraid.
But are you prepared?