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Leadership, Challenger explosion, Winston Churchill and overwhelming syndrome


Thirty years ago, on January 28th, 1986, the world watched speechlessly the explosion of Challenger space shuttle, a minute or so after lift-off. Seven crew perished in the accident. Later, investigations determined that an o-ring failure in one of the rocket booster and cold weather were the root cause and ancillary factor for the explosion. An engineer working at the manufacturers of the solid rocket boosters had written a note to the company’s Vice President, in which he lamented that:…

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Is there a simple way to turn failure into success?


We were recently made aware of a rather interesting research graphic called “Without Fail”. We present it below, followed by our comments and suggestions. Source: The graphic starts by stating that 90% of business startups fail and 42% of those failures are actually due to lack of market for their products  and, I’d like to add, botched plans. No big surprise here, these numbers are “known” in the markets. A gallery of famous present and past personalities is then…

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Should you listen to your insurer for your business cyber risk management?


Cyber security is a relatively new subject in businesses management. It first emerged in the 80ies with password guessing, featured in movies like Wargame with the rudimentary attack sophistication of those times. The attack sophistication increased gradually and, by the end of 2000, elaborate hacking devices (Stuxnet worm) that could only be issued by cooperating military forces were born. To date no state has officially claimed ownership, but anonymous US officials speaking to the Washington Post stated the worm was…

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Risk and Resilience Conference Update!


The Conference Chairman of the Risk and Resilience Conference just informed the Committee that: Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Risk and Resilience conference has been moved from April to November. The new conference dates are November 13-16, 2016. Short courses will take place on Sunday, November 13 and main conference will take place on November 14-16. As the result of this change, the abstracts submission deadline has also been moved to May 27, 2016. Updated information is available at 

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Project risks (budget exceedance) used as a rejecting argument by activists


We recently read an article stating that Environmentalists want the Ontario government (Canada) to abandon plans for a $13-billion refurbishment of four nuclear reactors at the Darlington generating station. We could not help but to remember a post we wrote about mega projects and the numerous cognitive biases that flaw our human reasoning. Indeed poorly made risk assessments, foster internal and public distrust. Rail projects, highways, tunnels commonly end-up with 20%-70% budget exceedance and sometimes more. IPA (Independent Project Analysis )…

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Intuition, Success and Failures. We wish you a very successful 2016 based on healthy decision making.


In December 2016 we looked at uncertainty taxonomy, resulting epistemological and ontological approaches to risk, all the way to intuition. Some readers have asked for an example helping to differentiate intuition from the other approaches. We all experienced driving a car at night. Certainly everyone recognizes the usefulness of being informed by our cockpit instruments on various functional and hazard parameters. At night the cockpit is lit and we use the front light to ‘see’ ahead. Then we make decisions.…

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31 functions to describe a Tale [Propp, 1927] and the relationship to modern Risk Assessment.


As we were discussing the Uncertainty taxonomy I remembered a book by Vladimir JA. Propp (1927) entitled “Tales’ Morphology”. This was certainly not part of my scientific background, but there are people that delve with delight in such treaties. Where is the link with Risk Assessment? Well, if you read the book you will see in the Preface a long discussion starting with the definition of morphology (i.e. the study of the shapes and parts, for example in botanic). Propp…

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