Risk and uncertainty

This category contains 58 posts

Impact estimation tables (roughly)

Last week, two days in succession, I had cause to solve a problem using impact estimation tables. Unfortunately this technique is not widely known, so I thought I’d have a quick pass at explaining it. For many more details—beyond the simplicity of the description below—you really need to see the work of Tom Gilb, who … Continue reading

An example of a polarised uncertainty

This week I came across a real world example of an uncertainty that became more polarised—an event caused the outcome to be more likely to go to one extreme or the other, and less likely to be middling. I realised it when someone asked if I thought David Davis’s resignation was a good thing or … Continue reading

A plan for a plan

The other day a developer in my team asked, “So what’s your plan for…” and then described a particular organisational and technical challenge that several of us had been discussing on and off for a while. It was something that I was pushing forward, but I didn’t have all the answers yet. Of course, I … Continue reading

The (probably non-) risk management process

If you want a process for managing risk, then ISO 31000, “Risk management — Guidelines” is probably not going to help you. I’ve been looking at ISO 31000, because although I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and articles by individual people about risk, I also felt it was important to understand any “official” guidance … Continue reading

Sharing and transferring risk

When suggesting how we might deal with risk in a project or an enterprise, one of the common options that’s suggested is that we “transfer” the risk. (Other options include to accept it, reduce it, or avoid it.) And a common example of what it means to transfer the risk is taking out insurance. Then … Continue reading

Visualising uncertainty with R

I came across an article the other day by Martin Davies, explaining how important it is to visualise risk and uncertainty. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about visualising cause and effect. Martin emphasises the value of visualing uncertainty as a probability density curve, which I’ve also discussed before, and he uses the programming … Continue reading

Predicting an uncertain future

I was listening to the Today programme last week, and was struck by an interview between the Business presenter, Dominic O’Connell, and BP’s Chief Economist, Spencer Dale. (It’s around 24 minutes in if you want to listen for yourself.) The economist was talking about BP’s research into demand for oil. Currently we use about 100 … Continue reading

Visualising cause and effect in risk management

The other day I came across an interesting collection of visualistions around risk and uncertainty. It was produced by Nico Lategen as a demonstration, and his example was Brexit. (Clearly a favourite topic for those of us interested in uncertainty.) Initially my interest was around his scale representing sovereignty. This reflects what I’ve written about … Continue reading

Visualising uncertainty with bar charts

Previously I’ve advocated the use of probability distribution curves to describe uncertainty more clearly. It helps us get away from the binary success/fail of traditional risk listing, and instead allows a much wider understanding of the likelihood of different gradations of outcome. For example, not just whether we’ll make our predicted profit, but different degrees … Continue reading

Accepting failure enables rational exits

You’ve probably heard the idea that we should allow people to fail. You’ve probably also heard the phrase “fail fast”, meaning that we should both allow failure and be set up sufficiently to recognise it and recover from it quickly. In both cases I’ve always seen the benefits of accepting failure as allowing us to … Continue reading

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