Murphy’s Laws & Business Risk Management
Tuesday, 29 March, 2011 Leave a comment
The origin of the well known Murphy’s Laws may be traced to Edwards Air Force Base in 1949. A few of the most popular of these laws:
- If anything can go wrong, it will
- If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong
- If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which something can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will promptly develop
- Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse
- Everything goes wrong all at once.
- Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.
- Nothing is as easy as it looks.
- Everything takes longer than you think.
- It is simple to make something complex, and complex to make it simple.
Murphy’s Laws may sound funny but most of us will agree that they correctly reflect the reality more than simple anecdotes. Because of this, one may see behind Murphy’s Laws the hand of Nature. Consequently, we may attempt to come up with a “scientific interpretation” of these laws. There are thousands of Murphy’s Laws and we will not get into the details of any single one of them. However, we can state that they essentially point in the following direction:
Things tend to become more complex and not simpler.
In other words, Murphy’s Laws state that, when given a chance, complexity will go up rather than go down. In effect, when we say that a “situation is bad” or has “gotten worse” we often imply that it has become more complex. Highly complex situations are difficult to assess and to manage and frequently spawn unexpected behaviour and this is why humans prefer to avoid them. In other words, Murphy’s Laws are saying just that.