Is there a lesson in Risk Management from the Easter Rising?

At Easter 1916 a group of revolutionaries failed to overthrow British rule in Ireland.  After a gun-battle several were killed but more were taken prisoner.  These men were sentenced to death and executed by firing squad.

Many historians believe that this execution was a political mistake.  They say it made martyrs of them, whereas in jail they would have been regarded as failures.  This event poisoned Anglo-Irish relations for generations, making an amicable resolution to the Irish Question (or the British question from another point of view) almost impossible.

This is an example of turning a misfortune into a catastrophe.  It is one of the lessons I did not include in my book “Be Victorious! – Lessons from World War I for business and everyday life”.

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When things go wrong in your business, do you have plans in place for damage limitation or do you pour petrol on the flames?  Perhaps you need to conduct a Risk Management survey.

Why do car manufacturers not do more to improve safety?

Of course we all know that car safety has increased enormously over the years.  However, almost every improvement has come only after much lobbying.  I believe windscreen wipers were introduced many years after cars had been invented.  The pressure for this improvement came mainly from women (passengers, obviously).   Thanks ladies!

Safety items have often been presented as optional extras rather than standard equipment.  It is not surprising therefore that many people opt for the basic model rather than paying that little more for the safer one.

It is well known that the biggest cause of road accidents is driver error.  So how can we blame the manufacturers?  A lot of the current generation of safety devices are aimed at reducing the effects of driver error.  Sensors that cause the brakes to apply themselves if a crash is imminent.  Sensors that warn if a vehicle is straying from its lane.

Some models do have these fitted as standard, but many still do not.  In some cases to buy them as extras costs hundreds of pounds, whilst to install them as standard would add only forty pounds to the cost.  Asking for a specimen with the device installed can add a lot to the delivery time

Who is going to pay more and wait longer for something that is likely to be perceived as non-essential?

But the motor industry does not see safety as something that sells cars, so perhaps it is not their fault.

In this instance we may need to rely on nanny-state (or should that be nanny-EU?) to bring in regulations.



How can big businesses manage their strategic risks?

I have written about the need for bigger businesses to recognise that they have three categories of risk: operational, strategic, and external.  Operation risks are probably the best known and most studied.  In this article I will look at strategic risk.

There are different types of strategic risk.  These vary according to the nature of the business.

  1. High Risk, slowly evolving
  2. Diverse and complex risks
  3. A quick-changing risk environment.

Each of these requires a different approach, so you must first decide which type you are dealing with.

  1. Requires a manager with the ability and authority to make the necessary decisions and access to people with the right technical knowledge. It may well also require an external consultant.
  2. Requires a culture of risk-awareness throughout the business, but also a central Risk Management team to act as facilitators to other managers.
  3. Requires collaboration between line managers and embedded risk experts. The latter should support but challenge the former.


The role of top management is to strike a balance between risk, opportunity and cost based on information and analysis provided by the line managers and internal and external risk managers.

Is there more to broken glass than meets the eye?

I recently read an article entitled “Would the last person in Sydney please turn the lights out?” by Matt Barrie of

I found it very interesting and several points seemed valid, although I do not know enough about life in Sydney to be able to comment on the accuracy of a lot of his statements.

I regret that I have been unable to find the article again so cannot reply directly onto his blog, or wherever.

I certainly share his concern that people misuse statistics and I hope he buys my book  How To Avoid Being Misled By Statistics Don’t Be One Of The 60% Who Are Below Average
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One thing I feel I must comment on is that he says the authorities in Sydney have introduced rules for the sale of alcoholic drinks including that they must be served in plastic glasses after a certain time at night.  He sees this as a great infringement of civil liberties.  His general complaint is that the authorities are overregulating everything and creating a nanny-state.  A good deal of it relates to Health & Safety and alcohol.

I have often written about the need for a balanced approach to H & S and might find myself in agreement with Matt on a lot of things.   It does sound as if they are getting a bit extreme in Sydney.  However, I think he is overreacting on this specific issue.  Plastic glasses reduce the risk of getting a glass pushed into your face by someone you have inadvertently offended and also the risk of treading or falling on broken glass.  Where I live, broken glass is too commonly found in lots of places including the park where children play and dogs are exercised.  Plastic glasses would be welcome.  Is that a big deal?

Another point I would take up is that Matt complains that the local police chief has warned women of the dangers of excessive drinking, not only for their health but also because it makes them more vulnerable to physical or sexual assault and to robbery.  Matt says this is an example of blaming the victim so typical of Christians, of which the police chief is one.  I did not interpret the police chief’s advice as blaming but merely as warning potential victims.  I did not get the impression he would condone the attackers, however drunk their victim.

I would also point out that in my experience Christians have often been active in victim support groups and otherwise show compassion on anyone suffering for any reason.  I cannot speak for Australian Christians, but I hope they are similar to us in Britain.  I know that James Jones, when Bishop of Liverpool played an important part in getting justice for the victims of the Hillsborough tragedy in the face of those seeking to blame the victims for it.

However, if Matt is right in his understanding of the police chief’s words, I will certainly not endorse blaming victims or excusing those who assault them.

Let us not encourage a nanny-state in Australia or anywhere else, but let us applaud sensible measures to reduce real risks, especially where these measures are not too onerous.

Happy Birthday! You’ve been scammed!

I have written about this before, but the risk is still with us, and then some!  I was interested in an article on it in Which Magazine this month.  [By the way I strongly recommend that publication – whatever the month].

It warned that the scammers are getting more sophisticated:

  • they are improving their spelling
  • they are using our first names
  • they are getting bits of information about you from different sources so that they sound convincing when they put it all together.

What sources?

  1. Your profiles on social media
  2. your blogs
  3. the Electoral Register
  4. other websites where you have given your contact details.

What can you do?

  • Look out for pfishinge-mails.  Anything unsolicited and unexpected should be suspect.
  • if in doubt contact the organisation they say they represent (your bank, IT support, HMRC) using an e-mail address or ‘phone number you know is correct, but don’t reply to the e-mail itself
  • Think twice or more about what information you are giving out on social media or other websites.
  • How many people know your date of birth?  How many organisations use that as “proof” of your ID?
  • It’s nice to receive lots of birthday cards and e-messages, but  would you be better off getting fewer if it meant staying safer?

If you have been scammed use the Action Fraud line 0300 123 2040 or contact the police, as well as your bank, credit card company.




Is it time for your Insurance Renewals?

This is the time of year when many people have to prepare to renew their insurances.  Don’t forget, if this includes you!  It is good to review as well as renew.  I have written before about how to keep your premiums down.,-or-at-Least-Control,-Your-Insurance-Premiums&id=7309130

I have also written on the risk of ignoring certain risks.

I have noticed that many people concentrate on insuring things they can see such as buildings, vehicles or computers, and forget about what they may think are unreal or “airy-fairy” risks.  This could be a mistake!

  • If you insure your premises against fire and other physical risks, what about “business interruption” risks, resulting from the premises becoming unusable following a fire or whatever?
  • If you insure your computers against theft, what about the data on them, or the effect on your business if they were out of use?
  • If you insure your vehicles, what about the risks to you as an employer when your employees use their cars in the course of their work?

Have a thorough review.  Feel free to have a word with me if it will help.  A little chat won’t cost anything.

01925 445215