Project Fear? Is that another name for Christianity? Hell! No!

During the EU Referendum campaign, the term ‘Project Fear’ was frequently used by the Leave campaign to describe the position taken by the Remain campaign, as they so emphasised the dangers to our economy of a departure from the EU.  Sometimes the term was used the other way round, i.e. to refer to the fear of immigration and the fear of ever closer union.

Regardless of the relevance to the issues, the term reminded me of the way many people have described Christianity.  They claim the Church tries to use fear to recruit and to dominate.  I have also come across people who claim to have been brought up in a churchgoing family where fear was the main driving force in their religion.  These were usually people who had ceased practicing and often ceased believing, although some had discovered a different kind of Christianity to which they were happy to belong.

Why do people think that way?  One source of misinformation is historical drama on TV.  Almost all clergy and other ‘religious’ people are portrayed as narrow-minded censorious hypocrites.  Occasionally there is one who is nice but rather naïve.   This may lead viewers to develop a negative view of the Christianity, whether past or present.  A view too often built on assumptions rather than observation.

Why do I dispute this view?  Because of my own experience.  Throughout my life I have known many Christians and few if any have conformed to the stereotypes.  I have found the same of Jews, Asians, businessmen, public officials and lots of other ‘stock characters’ of fiction and of popular imagination.  The only Members of Parliament I have met were honest, sincere people trying to serve the community.  I have also found that most of the writings of all kinds by Christians of past ages do not sound as if they were full of fear but rather of hope.

Why does it matter?

  • All sterotypes are dangerous. They help build prejudice and are obstacles to real encounters and to creating communities.
  • I want my novels, although fiction, to give as true a flavour of the past as possible.
  • I do not want anyone to miss out on the opportunity to experience real Christianity due to an unreal image, however acquired.

What about me?

  • My own experience of God is something I may write about at more length on another occasion, but I can assure you that fear has seldom played much of a part in it.
  • When I first stopped to ask myself where I stood, I was not afraid of Hell: I just did not want my whole life to be based on a falsehood – either way.
  • And now? I do not obey out of fear of punishment, but because I want to do what I know to be right.  Can you love your neighbour out of fear?

Further reading?  Try the First Letter of John in the Bible.  Not the Gospel of John, although probably by the same writer.  All of it if you can, otherwise just Chapter 4 verses 18 and 19.  “Love casts out fear”.



Cyberscammers are getting more sophisticated: don’t be caught out!

I have written in the past about cybercrime including pfishing.

I am indebted to Computing Which magazine for information about a worrying new development.

The latest type of scammers do not send out blanket e-mails addressed impersonally appearing to come from a well-known organisation, but one you do not deal with.  I do not bank with Barclays and do not have an Apple Computer for instance.

The new boys study you by secretly reading your e-mails and send you an e-mail addressed to you by name, appearing to come from a firm you actually do business with.  They send you an invoice very similar to a genuine one but with changed bank and contact details asking for a payment, when they know you were going to pay this firm for goods or services they had supplied.  They may also write to the creditor, appearing to be you, asking for more time to pay, thus delaying any reminder you might get.

The best defence is vigilance and contacting your real creditor using contact details you already have, to ensure the invoice is correct.

For more, go to or

Pokemon Go! Or should it be Stop? An accident waiting to happen?

Pokemon Go is a craze that seems to be sweeping this and many other nations.  Many people age having a lot of fun.  Why not encourage it?

  • There have been several instances reported, where people have got into trouble in the course of the game. Please note that I said ‘in the course of’ and not ‘as a result of’.  That distinction is important.
  • Critics have been described as killjoys and a good deal worse.

This seems to me to be a classic case for the application of Risk Management.

  • What are the risks?
  • How can they be managed?

The main risks appear to be to participants getting attacked, harassed or injured accidentally while in unsafe locations.  Some have been in road accidents because they were so absorbed in the virtual world they lost touch with the real one.  Some have had encounters with the police as they appeared to be acting suspiciously.

There is also the risk that criminals might pretend to be Pokemon players to get access to property or to persuade people not to call the police.

The appropriate controls may seem obvious, but events indicate that they have not so seemed to everyone.

  • Do not go alone to lonely locations.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Keep in touch with someone.
  • Have some means of identification.
  • If challenged, give a polite, sensible answer: do not antagonise people.
  • Ask permission to enter private property.

I hope these simple measures will enable you to play safely and enjoy it.

If you do not play Pokemon Go or if you did not need any of the above advice, just pause and ask yourself if there are comparable situations in your business.

  • Are you experiencing problems just because you are not taking some basic measures
  • Are you hesitant about entering a new market or trying a different approach because of the risks?
  • Do you need some Risk Management advice, so you can do what you want or need to do while controlling the risks?

You know where to find me!

The final two lessons in management thinking from the International Festival of Business 2016.

We have looked the three principal elements of management thinking and noted their similarity to the Risk Management process.

  1. Desirability, defining the Risk.
  2. Feasibility, identifying the controls
  3. Viability, selecting the appropriate controls.

So what else is there?

Implementation.  i.e. action!  Do it: do not leave a report on a shelf, or saved on a computer.

Finally: monitor and review.  An idea is only good if it works.  If not either tweak it or scrap it.  Do not carry on banging your head on a wall, although it is a well-known management practice.  Learn from your mistakes.  Quickly.

Even more finally. There are a few other items I may share on this bog soon, but these three belong together and are what I would hope a Risk Management survey would involve.  I will add only that everyone seemed to agree that it was important to involve a lot of people in the process and to include people who are not closely connected with the activity under consideration.  You can be too close to a thing to see it clearly.  I would suggest a Risk Management Consultant would be useful for that reason.  Call me biased if you like, but you know where I am if you want me!

A third lesson in management thinking from the International Festival of Business 2016.

We have noted the similarity between good management thinking and good Risk Management thinking.  We have seen how this applies to two phases in the management process: establishing desirability and feasibility, or identifying the risk and considering the controls.

The third element in the process is: Viability.  This is where we ask whether the solution is affordable and practicable, given constraints such as time and cost.  Considering who is going to do it is also worthwhile if it is actually going to happen.

This is similar to evaluating the controls and balancing the cost and other effects of any new controls against the size and probability of the risk.

You may think these three phases are all there are.  I will explain in my next blog why there have to be two more.

Another lesson in management thinking from the International Festival of Business 2016

We have noted that good practice in management thinking is very similar to that in Risk Management.  We began by considering the first stage: Desirability or defining the risk.

Now let us look at the second step in the process.

Considering the options: Feasibility.  This is similar to looking at all the actual and potential controls you could apply to a risk.  You should at this stage ask only what is technically feasible.  Do not consider cost or such practical concerns as who is available to do it.  You might find an idea that is so good when you have considered all the options, that you make adjustments to budgets and structures to make resources available.  The only question should be ‘how far does this contribute to achieving that which we have agreed is desirable’ or ‘how far does this reduce the risk of that which we agree is undesirable’.

Once you have established the desirability and feasibility of your ideas, you are ready for the next phase, which will be the subject of my next blog.



How secure shoould your online purchasing system be?

I have enjoyed a lot of the events at the International Festival of Business 2016 in Liverpool over the last three weeks.

I went to a talk by Google  about website design.  It included a video where a customer in a supermarket wanted to buy a loaf and was subjected to a series of security and other questions before being allowed to make the purchase.  He kept having to go back to the start every time he got an answer ‘wrong’.  In the end he walked out empty-handed.

This was of course an allegory, or possibly an analogy, about the problems we often encounter when trying to buy online.  It raised the question of how much security is appropriate in a given situation depending on the size and nature of the purchase and the risk of losing customers in the process.  Of course, you do not necessarily have to sacrifice security just to make your system simple to use and customer-friendly.

It is another example of the need to balance one risk with another.

Perhaps you need to have a word with your website designer.  Or with a client.

I will be writing again about some of the other things I learnt at the Festival, mainly thanks to contributions from Google.

Lessons in Management Thinking from the International Festival of Business 2016

I enjoyed all the sessions of the Festival that I went to and will be blogging about some of the ideas that I found interesting.

I was pleased to see that a lot of what I heard fitted in well with Risk Management thinking.  This is probably because Risk Management is, or should be, an integral part of general management and good practice is right for most areas of management.

This is one example.

Defining the question:  Desirability.

  • This is similar to defining the risk. What is it you hope to achieve, or sometimes, especially in RM, what is it that you wish to avoid?  What would success look like?  What would be the effect of the risk materialising?
  • Some serious thought needs to go into this, or you may be treating the symptoms rather than the disease. Alternatively, you may be thinking too much about what might go wrong rather than what would be the undesirable consequences of such an event.  Are you afraid of flying or only of crashing?  Avoiding flying and going by land is not the only solution.
  • It is important at this stage to exclude other considerations such as cost or practicability. Exclude only that which is undesirable.  Otherwise you might write off an idea that seems unworkable but might be just what you were looking for.  All you needed was to give more thought at a later stage to feasibility.

We will look at the other phases of the process in future blogs.


Hats off? On your bike!

I saw one of our local team vicars the other day.  He had a black eye, a bruise and scratches on his face. You might have thought he had been in a fight.  You would have been wrong.  He had come off a bike at the start of a coast-to-coast charity ride.  He had gamely got back on and completed the ride.  He was grateful that his cycling-helmet had saved him from much worse injuries.

We were both saddened to hear that many cyclists, especially children and teenagers, do not wear cycling-helmets because they do not look cool.  I would have thought the answer was to find one in a style that matched your particular image, but do not come to me for fashion advice, only for Risk Management.

Risk Management is mostly about balancing one risk against another.  How do you balance the risk of looking a bit naff with the risk of a cracked skull?

I rarely ride a bike, but have done a lot of riding on horses for most of my life.  I got used to wearing a hard hat or helmet at an early age.  It was just part of the uniform, like the boots and I hardly ever think about it.  I have been appalled at some professionals who ride bareheaded.  I think some of them cannot imagine coming off.  They should remember an old saying: ‘There never was a hoss that couldn’t be rode, and there never was a man who couldn’t be throw’d’.

One old horseman told me ‘you only need to wear a hard hat if there’s anything worth protecting under it’.  Call me biased if you like, but I think I’ve got something worth protecting under my hat.

Cyclists and horseriders need good balance, so why can they not balance their risks?