Complexity, risk, uncertainty and change


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Business management, particularly for those intent upon ‘change’ or responsible for managing exposures, needs a rigorous, objective, measurement of the endogenous properties (complexity) that enables the functionality from which (through interactions with exogenous parties) the business generates the revenues that sustain it in changing and turbulent economic times.

“Complexity increases cost and decreases flexibility — often in unforeseen ways — and also tends to decrease stability,”….

Peter Leukert, CIO of Commerzbank

It is the number, nature and integrity of dynamic, multi-scalar, interactions that are the sources of strength (enabling performance greater than the sum of the parts). The ability to distinguish and respond to ‘signals’, that maintain the variety, effectiveness and agility of the complex system, from the ‘noise’ of flawed metrics, self-serving culture, hierarchical structure (silos), skewed incentives – of an unsustainable, failed or failing, model (reliant upon  assumption, reflexive, subjective, statistical analysis and prediction) that has its foundation in flawed (linear) economic thinking.

We won’t get different or better answers while we keep on asking the same questions.

For meaningful change to occur and to be sustained requires a rigorous justification, sufficient to counter financial projections that satisfy the goals of C-level short-termism that are detrimental to the stability and long term health of the business.

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Business Insurance:: ISO 31000 should we believe the hype?


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Apparently,

“…risk managers should use standards such as ISO 31000, “because standards, no matter what kind or which ones, support key tools and processes.”“Standards allow you to proactively address risks with some discipline,” he said. “Standards also relate well to the whole idea of focusing on outcomes.”

http://www.businessinsurance.com/article/20130602/NEWS06/306029979?template=smartphoneart

Surely the focus should be upon being proactive and ‘managing’ emergent risks, NOT outcomes!?

Where, I suspect, NASA have a distinct (informational) advantage is that the multi-scalar interactions among components, processes, networks of sub-systems and systems are each rigorously tested at every point in assembly and operation…

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UK insurance ‘dissected’


I felt compelled to respond to some comments that were prompted by a previous article:

IBM Insurance:: does the industry really care what customers want? I wonder…

The following comments come from a, highly experienced and senior, former insurance executive, who now works for one of the major Global Consulting firms. Obviously I wouldn’t name names without first gaining the approval of the individual in question but I really wanted to share my thoughts. After all that’s why I blog.

For many years I have eagerly anticipated some meaningful debate with thought leaders, passionate or concerned people from within the insurance industry. But I have been, consistently disappointed. I wish I was more confident that these views might spark some meaningful discussion…but I won’t hold my breath!

The comments:

I think David Wilson is making the point that despite the results of the IBM survey, he’s seeing little action from the UK insurance industry. I think at the moment UK and Western European insurers have their hands full with Regulation – Solvency II, RDR – and this is diverting their attention.

Even so, in terms of innovation, UK insurers (or at least Northern European insurers) are seen as leading the global pack in terms of capital effectiveness and optimisation, with the North American market looking to UK as an example of best practice especially in the area of risk management.

My response:

What are the key issues identified:

  1. Compliance with additional Regulation – brought about by cultural, operational and regulatory failures
  2. UK & Europe seen as innovation leaders – based upon the above, should this be the case? And,
  3. capital effectiveness and optimisation – are these correct metrics for innovation and compliance?
  4. risk management – where is the evidence of “best practice”? – I see plenty of evidence of “bad practice” that has become ‘accepted practice’ across the industry. What are current practices in relation to complexity, business resilience and systemic risk?
    Insurance and banking have convinced themselves that they have been/are innovative but, if this is true, why are they the least trusted and most complained about industries according to their customers? Does that not explain the perceived need for more regulation?

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Floods:: will the insurance industry redeem or condemn itself?


When it comes to preparing for, coping with or recovering from, flooding it is highly recommended that property owners AND insurers listen to experts, such as our very own, Jeff Charlton …rather than to organisations peopled by …

individuals whose self-interest consistently supersedes the interests of their colleagues – clients – congregations – students – customers – members – citizens and IS the biggest threat to their own interests as well as our shared future!

Do so and, whether insurer or insured, you may be well on your way to coping with or avoiding nasty issues that impact both wealth and health.

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Updated:: who actually benefits from buying “risk protection”?


I attended an interesting seminar last evening [June 2011], arranged by the Institute of Directors and sponsored by Zurich. Interestingly these organisations also provided (by some margin) the most interesting speakers. The Seminar was entitled “The Reality of Managing Risk”.

“Easy” conclusions: the industry prefers to profit from peddling “faux certainty” (in the form of risk modelling) than acknowledge and prepare its customers and shareholders for the REALITY of uncertainty; Managing, even influencing, risk is a minefield – but is made worse when, conventional RM purports to know and be able to “manage” more than it, in reality, can! Insurance industry leaders of the prevailing culture have established that THEY are better served by achieving short-term goals in relation to price, GWP, growth and market share, than by pursuing long term strategies based upon underwriting risk for profit, rewarding a responsible approach to “business resilience” and building stable – sustainable –  transparent – relationships. Read more of this post