One world, 16 common human traits

One world, 16 common human traits

Nov 12th, 2009

As a Risk & Crisis Manager working all over the world supporting corporations, governmental agencies and individuals in their decision making and alternatives selection process we have learned that we, human beings, share very strong and significant common traits, 16 common human traits, despite the apparent huge differences contributing to make our world such a colorful and wonderful place.

We are neither psychologists nor sociologists, so we will leave the discussion related to the origins of these common traits to those specialists.

However, we feel it necessary to dress a list, to raise awareness, as we believe that the world would be a better place, and more importantly that we would build a better future if we were to modify our behavior in these areas.

To make it simpler and clearer we will not describe the traits themselves, but compile instead a list of typical phrases that reflect those traits. The list is split in four categories, A to D, describing the situation in which a person “normally/unfortunately” generally comes out with a phrase (I have included four examples per category) corresponding to a trait that we should modify.

So, for example: WHEN….A) People are made aware of a hazard (something unpleasant that could happen to that person), they GENERALLY REPLY:

  1. oh, yeah, I know, but that will not happen to me…because I know better, I am lucky, It has never happened before….
  2. well, it has happened last year/in the last five-ten years, so we are good for a while.
  3. actually we had a security system for that, we we turned it off, as the alarm was scaring off people…and you see, no accident has happened yet!
  4. Risk assessment are only there to scare people with huge accidents that never happen.

WHEN …B) Something has gone wrong (could very well be the same guys of the list above), they GENERALLY REPLY:

  1. what a bad luck, gee…
  2. I cannot understand how this happened, we had it all under control until then!
  3. Well you know, the alarm did not work that well
  4. we should do a risk assessment right now.

WHEN …C) Decision are to be made (could very well be the same guys of the lists above), they GENERALLY REPLY:

  1. You can do all of the analyses you want, at the end, I will make the decision, following my instinct/my gut feelings, and other body parts or particular garments’ areas: it has never failed me before.
  2. I can see pros and cons and my decision will take all of those into account: you know, I have always taken calculated risks
  3. Man, when you are an entrepreneur, you know you have to take risks
  4. You know, we have the experience to deal with whatever will come up in this project

WHEN ….D) Contemplating project’s fiasco, failure to perform, bankruptcy, they GENERALLY REPLY:

  1. What happened is unprecedented, unforeseeable, how could we have….
  2. Well, there were so many uncertainties, what a pity…
  3. Well we tried with all our best people and invested all that money, …well, you know, sometimes the best intentions….
  4. We had done it so many times, others have done it, how come it did not work?

We are sure you can dig out examples you have heard about (or you may have lived as an actor), where these or other similar phrases were used by one or more stakeholders.

For instance the Subprime fiasco and resulting economic turmoil, generated at least the following statements among Bankers, politicians and affiliated professionals:

A1, A3, A4, B1, B2, B3, B4, C1, C2, C3, C4, D1,D2,D3,D4.

You may have noticed that the only one missing is A2 “well, it has happened last year, so we are good for a while”. BEWARE: when the next bubble blows up, A2 will most certainly be in the list.

Are we pessimistic? Please do not get that very wrong impression. All our work, our life is geared towards getting people, corporations, governmental agencies to turn to rational risk and crisis management, to perform risk based decision making, to establish their risk tolerance and enhance their chances of success. Approaches and methods scalable for small to huge businesses and projects do exist and I use them every day for my clients.

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Category: Crisis management, Hazard, Risk analysis, Risk management, Tolerance/Acceptability

9 responses to “One world, 16 common human traits”

  1. Oded Sela says:

    Very interesting observation. It may be called the “It will never happen to me syndrome”…

    • foboni says:

      Thank you for your comment. It is nice to see our readership growing, and we are very happy to read comments, especially when they come from overseas.

  2. Fernando Novis says:

    Dear Oboni,
    Amazing how cynical this people could be in such (pre and post fact) situations. I’ve being in a project fighting for having ERM as a management tool and not only as a Headquarters’ obligation… Its a hard work. I totally agree with your points here. How it could be change, as people don’t like bad news, specially before it became a fact?

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