Mention risk management to the man in the street and you can see the eyes glaze over and hear a low sigh.  Risk management conjures up doom and gloom disasters, box ticking and endless “elf and safety” meetings which bore the pants of anyone with a pulse.

To find out how best to define risk we asked those who should know best; risk managers from around the globe, to describe risk Management in three simple words.  Although not very scientific, we believed that a simple survey would give an indication of how risk managers saw their profession.  We expected maybe half of the respondent to use “risk vocabulary” and the rest to use more inventive words.

We posted survey requests in five seperate Linked-in group and the response was extremely positve.  One group -Risk Managers – was by far the leader.  The suggestions ranged from being very earnest to some which are unrepeatable.

Up until Friday 11th January 2012 we received approximately 800 suggestions. We took out words such as “risk, management, the, and etc.” which left 650 suggestions.

Which gave the top three words as:

  • Identify (occurring 30 times)
  • Mitigate (occurring 19 times)
  • Uncertainties (occurring 14 times)

Which is approximately 10% of the total number of suggestions made.

These results surprised us because the risk profession uses established standards to manage risk.  These standards are very clear and describe risk management as very much more than “Uncertainties, Identify, Mitigate”, for example the word “value” was only mentioned four times by respondents but, value protection is an incredibly important part of risk management.

Obviously there is a problem here. At its heart risk management is very simple, so it is little wonder that the man in the street is so indifferent to risk when so many different signals are being given off by risk professionals.

Risk professionals have a duty to keep risk simple. Risk management should add value to any venture with as little additional effort as possible.  How to achieve this is available in codes and standards, but as shown by the LinkedIn poll, many risk professionals still a long way to go.

Use the contact form below for full details of the survey.