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Systems failures of Metro/Subway systems in Santiago de Chile and Toronto


Over a period of less than one year, multiple system failures have put down Metro/ Subway networks of Santiago de Chile and Toronto, stranding up to 100,000 commuters. In both cases the problems stemmed from power failures (investigations still underway, as far as we know). In both case there was no or very limited alternative, or as the media and some politicians have feasted-on, “no plan B”. The failures were so significant because both the main system and the backup…

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Innovation and Cleantech in Canadian Natural Resources: Mining and Oil & Gas.


Whether you are located in a prosperous country or in a difficult one, hit by a crisis, you will sooner or later consider expanding your horizons in new markets. It may be a purely growth fostering move, or a survival need. Even for well capitalized and ran companies such a move can have outcomes far from what was expected, and you may have to respond for these consequences. The temptation to emulate extant successful business models can be difficult to…

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What M. Planck, G.B. Shaw and A. Rand have to do with Risk Management?


Max Planck wrote: “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” At Riskope belong to those who argue that the transition from faith and luck, which were two pillars, fortunately not the only ones, of planning/managing the future of a project/ operation, to rational thinking is far from completed, despite a few generations…

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Testing Innovation Potential In Startups


We read/hear a lot of talking about “disruptive innovation” ideas. Many of these disruptive innovations, however, seem to be linear extensions of an extant solution, say a less polluting engine, a better lasting battery or more functional accessory, a new, stronger, easier to use app. Oftentimes it is like no-one has really asked the developer or themselves if the innovation actually was disruptive before using the oh so fashionable adjective. Voices are raising (for example: Warren Berger, “A More Beautiful…

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Earthquakes, History and Cognitive/ Behavioral Biases


In 1570 AD a major earthquake hit the city of Ferrara tuck in between Florence and Venice in Italy. The seismic swarm destroyed over 40% of the buildings, but caused little harm to inhabitants. I can only imagine how the decision makers (reigning family) of the time were torn for the right course of action in the aftermath of the disaster. Here is my take on the different opinions that could have been expressed, linked to some common cognitive/behavioral biases:…

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Why when approaching Strategic, Tactical & Operational planning one needs to know about Ostriches, Denial, and Prayers.


While the world was feeling the aftershocks of the Great Recession, we wrote about 16 common Human traits when dealing with hazards and risks. Some of those 16 traits lead individuals and often their organizations to assume stances called Ostrich, Denial or Prayer, resulting in flawed Strategic, Tactical & Operational planning options and occasionally exposing them (and their neighbors, their environment, society at large) to significant hazards which could generate large unintended consequences, i.e. large risks leading to catastrophe. Happily, there are also…

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Ethics in mining, oil and other natural resources fields


We participated in a debate on ethics in mining at CIM 2015 (Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum). It was stated that more than any other industry, mining requires holistic approaches because impacts are indeed holistic. Interesting to note that when discussing about ethics everyone seems to accept the idea of holistic impacts, yet nobody objects to common practice risk assessments that most of the time censor and bias impacts and consequences. Thus it seems that the silos culture…

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