A risk view on Amulets and Talismans

A risk view on Amulets and Talismans

Jul 18th, 2013

A risk view on Amulets and Talismans

Since the beginning of time humans, single individuals or groups, have looked to protect themselves against disease, physical and moral pain, hazards and any potential damaging events.

Among the variety of “protections” developed since ancestral times amulets and talismans have played a major role.

Amulets (lucky charms) are passive protections often made of natural materials: minerals, plants or animal parts.

Talismans are active protections. The etymology of the word talisman shows an arabic root “tilsan” or, following some authors, a greek one, “telesma”, meaning rite.

In our world of rational thinking and modern logic most individuals and organizations would shy away from revealing they use amulets and talismans, although many actually do use them, in any social environment we can think of, from the country side all the way to corporate boardrooms and government buildings.

Sometimes we do not even know that something we like has actually a meaning in some esoteric circle. Dan Brown has built a literary career building stories on hidden meaning of signs and images or logos. Actually, modern corporate identities, like middle age heraldic signs, are often based on colourful logos, and colours have meanings which can be related to their “metals” and “powers” talisman ancestral interpretations. The following summary list shows that the matching between the ancestral meaning and the modern corporate intent can be, in some cases, quite mesmerizing:

Yellow: economic success and power on matter. Yellow pages, Sprint, Caterpillar, Interac, Yellowcab, Best Buy.

Orange: vital strength and health. Orange phone company, Fedex (with violet), Basf, Hermès, Wind.

Red: governs impulses, great efforts, courage and tenacity, Exxon, Toyota, Honda, Virgin, CocaCola, Rogers, Future Shop.

Violet: understanding, calm and positive acceptance, Fedex (with orange), Asprey luxury,Yahoo.

Indigo: friendship and platonic love, but can replace also violet and blue, IndiGo airline, Indigo Book Store and Music, Tata, BT.

Blue: mental power and intelligence, spiritual aspects of life, achievements, WordPress, General Electric, Fiat, Ford, Wolkswagen, LinkedIN.

Green: comprehension, generosity compassion, humbleness, brings forgiveness. Holiday Inn, Starbucks.

Brown: preservation and lasting values, UPS, Nespresso, Brown University.

Grey: overcoming fears, Swarowsky, Nintendo, Ernst and Young, Nestlé.

Turquoise: calming he nerves, Turquoise Holidays, Music & Phylosophy, Maldives.

Magenta: reinforces vitality, Statoil, T Mobile.

White: light, purity, Apple, The Vatican (with yellow), Esa.

Black: reduce pain and make them bearable, Sephora, EA, Nissan, Electrolux.

You can have a good laugh at this list, of course there would be counter-examples, of course you can say the colors were chosen just because they look nice, but there are some coincidences I find rather intriguing. Not to brag, but I was duly impressed when I noticed that our company, Riskope’s standard colors are grey, white and red, actually convey overcoming fears, light & purity, governing impulses, great efforts, courage and tenacity. No wonder, we are a risk management and decision support unbiased, independent consultant, helping organizations to shed light on the horizon (BTW, our text book cover shows a light tower), avoiding impulses and knee-jerk reactions, allowing long term courage and tenacious positioning on the markets!

At the end of this discussion, if you are willing to look at all this “ancestral information” with a XXI century risk manager eye, you can say that Amulets are nothing else than “mitigations”. No wonder they are objects (devices). Talismans, which have the important function of protecting their bearers from bad luck and sorcery, which deflect adversity and bring good luck, bringing well being and happiness, can be interpreted as a risk management program.

Talismans being a rite, they do require a well defined set of actions to take place. As most companies have already selected the proper colours, the next step is to perform a proper risk management approach, right?

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Category: Hazard, Mitigations, Probabilities, Risk analysis, Risk management

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