Risk and uncertainty

This category contains 42 posts

So you think elections, referendums and coin tosses are binary…?

I’ve argued before that we can act more constructively when we shift ourselves away from looking at things in binary terms. This is useful for managing uncertainty, describing risk, or just ensuring we don’t set ourselves up to fail. You can see some examples of things which look like black and white questions, but on … Continue reading

Using probability curves for constructive thinking

When I try to think constructively about managing risk and uncertainty, as well as trying to think about variability, I also find it useful to think about probability distributions. The image here is an example of a probability distribution I used in a discussion last week with the lovely people at FreeAgent. (You can see … Continue reading

Avoiding black and white isn’t black and white

Previously I’ve said that it’s unhelpful to view risk or uncertainty as black and white events that either happen or don’t happen. And I’ve also pointed out that it’s unhelpful generally to think about things in a binary manner. Happily, that’s a rule that can be applied to itself. In other words, this isn’t really … Continue reading

Complexity helps solve Olympian problems

I sometimes feel a small sense of wonder at how revealing complexity can actually help, rather than hinder, problem-solving. This complexity can be revealed by zooming out from a problem and looking at the bigger picture. I’ve previously written about how this approach can help us deal with risk and uncertainty better. Or it can … Continue reading

How does a risk expert behave?

by Matthew Leitch (www.WorkingInUncertainty.co.uk) and Nik Silver, August 2016 Some people deal with risk and uncertainty in their lives better than others. Survey evidence suggests only a weak correlation between good judgment in one kind of risky situation and similarly-good judgement in another kind, but still there is a correlation.  In this article we will … Continue reading

Good plans are flexible

What makes a good plan? Superficially a good plan is one that delivers what we want. And certainly if a plan does end up delivering what we want then we can look back and say it was—at worst—good enough. But in reality it’s very rare that the plan we start off with is the one … Continue reading

Questioning the RAID log

Like all good project professionals, whenever I’m managing a project I find it’s essential to keep a track of intended and incidental Benefits, Lessons learned, key Actions, and of course Resources. That’s why—in line with the best of my project manager peers—I always keep a BLAR log. Oh, hang on. Let’s try again… Like all … Continue reading

A few quick words on Brexit

As an In-voter, today’s Brexit result is not a good one. Actually, I think it’s terrible. But while I’ve been depressed and angry in the past at general election results that haven’t gone the way I wanted, I find that I’m much less angry and depressed this time. Oddly, this seems to be a consequence … Continue reading

Examples of false black and white world views

I wrote previously that we are presented with black and white options far more than we should be. Back then I gave one example to emphasise the point that it’s much more helpful to see shades of grey, which is much closer to reality and affords more opportunities to act appropriately. Since then I’ve collected … Continue reading

Escaping a black and white world view

Events in the news, future possibilities, and situations close to home are often presented in black and white terms. But more often than not reality is much more variable. And if we mistakenly accept a black and white view of the world then it becomes much more difficult to respond effectively—because we just don’t see … Continue reading