Risk = Probability X Consequences. Really?


“Wall Street thought it had risk all figured out…” should read that they figured out a marketing message given kudos by the number of Phd’s, MBA’s etc. employed by organisations whose appetite for individual/collective wealth and power was enabled by regulatory and credit (rating) regimes that suited the aspirations of politicians ALL at the expense of their citizens (customers) i.e. those that give them the means to function.

Their own greed and inability to continue to control information that exposed it, has been their undoing. Access to INFORMATION has enhanced our knowledge to such an extent that we have been able to recognise the MISINFORMATION that was presented as ‘knowledge and expertise’.

They created and profited from a volitile financial environment that, once globally interconnected, is beyond their control but, for as long as profits can be privatised and losses socialised, they will not suffer…until what has been ‘hidden in plain view’ can no longer be tolerated or sustained.

Time is nearly up.

Ontonix QCM Blog

Nik-Wallenda-tightroping-over-Niagara-Falls-1cv324b (image from www.impactlab.net )

Probably the most frequently used definition of risk is this one:

Risk = the Probability of something happening X resulting Cost/Consequences

This definition is flawed because of two fundamental reasons, which the formula itself suggests very eloquently:

1. Estimation of probabilities of future events is very difficult (while it is considerably easier when talking of past events). Rare events have very low probabilities and these are extremely difficult to estimate due to the fact that the sample of available data is very small (what is the probability of an event similar to 9/11?). Since this factor multiplies the “cost” in the above equation it is of paramount importance.

2. Estimation of the costs/consequences of these events. This is most difficult. Even after a catastrophic event it is difficult to estimate the total damage and cost.

However, the most important flaw is hidden and it is conceptual…

View original post 558 more words

Knowledge Management:: Why Management Consulting Will Be Disrupted: Part 1


A lot more than Management Consultants NEED to learn from “interactions” and interdependencies IF their particular skill-set is to remain relevant. The world is better understood when viewed, as it can be in the Digital Age, as an infinite series of inter-connected systems.

Complexity (of the 'system' - business model, or corporation, etc.) x Uncertainty (of the environment, market, economy) = Fragility (of the situation) Evidently, U cannot be managed but C can. Measuring, monitoring and managing 'current complexity' is more effective than conventional means of assessing, rating, managing and modelling risk. And why it is better that a system be less complex [Occam's Razor].  The best way to impact C is by starting from the top of the Complexity profile. Because the profile is computed based on a model-free method, there are no subjective 'weights' to adjust. Basically, this guarantees that you hit the most important parameters first, i.e the hubs. A system CANNOT perform functions for which it was intended without, first, possessing and maintaining the minimum amount of complexity to do so. Therefore, by monitoring current complexity, the potential risks associated with loss of function(s) due to endogenous events, are preceded by 'fluctuations' in the complexity measure

Complexity (of the ‘system’ – business model, or corporation, etc.)
x
Uncertainty (of the environment, market, economy)
= Fragility (of the situation)
Evidently, U cannot be managed but C can.
Measuring, monitoring and managing ‘current complexity’ is more effective than conventional means of assessing, rating, managing and modelling risk. And why it is better that a system be less complex [Occam’s Razor].
The best way to impact C is by starting from the top of the Complexity profile. Because the profile is computed based on a model-free method, there are no subjective ‘weights’ to adjust. Basically, this guarantees that you hit the most important parameters first, i.e the hubs.
A system CANNOT perform functions for which it was intended without, first, possessing and maintaining the minimum amount of complexity to do so. Therefore, by monitoring current complexity, the potential risks associated with loss of function(s) due to endogenous events, are preceded by ‘fluctuations’ in the complexity measure

The core message is that both THREAT & OPPORTUNITY lie within such (inter) connectedness but the winners of the current, turbulent and competitive marketplaces are those who understand the real power of creating RESILIENCE by developing TRUST & INTERDEPENDENCE (the collaboration that the author highlights).

But you cannot buy trust. It has to be earned and, in times of such ambiguity and uncertainty, competition without differentiation (beyond pricing) is not sufficient.

As Clay Shirky famously(?) said “It is easier to understand that you face competition than obsolescence”

The ‘Risk Leaders’ of the future need to recognise that to accelerate the process of understanding they require to trade TRANSPARENCY – demonstrable, shared, principles – for INFORMATION. Otherwise the (oft overlooked) frictional costs associated with transforming data into information remain. Along with the unidentified sources of excessive complexity and ‘manageable’ risk that, unmanaged, add to volatility, increased uncertainty and – when spread through interactions – can lead to contagion (or ‘systemic risk’)!

We are living in a knowledge driven economy that is 

data-to-wisdom1heavily influenced by collaborative forces sharing intangible and tangible assets to create new value.  The internet has accelerated collaboration and people are learning from the interactions.

Why Management Consulting Will Be Disrupted: Part 1.

Use yer heid:: conventional wisdom requires a sound basis


Here is a piece that I found particularly interesting. The full article can be found here.

Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s capacity to modify its organization, pertaining to the acquisition of new skills and learning. Several decades ago, the consensus was that the neocortical areas were immutable after a certain stage of development. However, recent studies determined that environmental changes could alter cognition by modifying neuron connections in adults. What’s more, it was determined that stress is the key factor in boosting plasticity, and learning, in the nervous system.

In other words, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. The brain says to itself: “Oh, my survival is at risk, so I’d better start thinking and learning really hard right now.” It’s only when you have skin in the game that you’ll really focus and learn.

Unfortunately there are still too many people who have difficulty in coming to terms with the FACT that, the others, who have always been around and tended to make things all right, can no longer be relied upon to do so!

Who’s that then?neural plasticity

The institutions that we were brought up to trust.

Organisations that could be trusted but who have shown themselves more concerned about holding on to power and/or wealth, than responding to he changes that right-minded people are, increasingly, calling for. Any innovation is on their terms and, first and foremost, for their benefit – destructive creation.

Read more of this post

Unintended consequences:: who’s kidding who?


A parable from the 19th Century that the insurance industry would do well to remember as it (directly and indirectly) presides over a ‘system’ whose man-made complexity – created to strip value from its customers/suppliers in order to sustain its own, spiralling and unregulated, greed – is the biggest single threat to its survival own.

PLEASE follow the links (below) in relation to opportunity costs and …unintended consequences for further explanation. Both are economically significant, yet, apparently, too readily overlooked by acolytes of Irresponsible Capitalism. Yet another entry for the bulging category of inconvenient truths to be swept under the proverbial Corporate carpet!

Opportunity costs: refers to efficient use of resources (does the term ‘peak oil’ mean anything to you!?)

“Anyone who believes in indefinite growth on a physically finite planet is either mad, or an economist.”

-David Attenborough

Law of unintended consequences: is particularly relevant to those of us with an ‘interest’ in complex systems, risk, complexity and resilience. For, although recognised in the days of Adam Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment, it is too readily overlooked. Now that’s bad enough BUT, when you recognise what we now know about dynamic, non-linear, business [digital] systems, IT IS CRIMINAL! As is the ongoing practise of teaching economic theory that is known to be flawed!!!

…the consequences of policies will depend critically on the nature of the interdependences

Read more of this post

So, what does the future hold?


…NO-ONE KNOWS! Deal with it. Move on.

It doesn’t matter whether you have a calculator or a PhD, a supercomputer and a job with a 200 year old financial institution that is a fact. So, can we PLEASE get over our prediction addiction and deal with what we are able to influence in the real world!?

Coincidentally, this morning, I read an excellent book review (Models Behaving Badly by Emanuel Derman) and I wanted to share his quote about mathematical models: “we are trying to force the ugly stepsister’s foot into Cinderella’s pretty glass slipper. It doesn’t fit without cutting off some of the essential parts.” 

But here is yet another expert making the same point…

Simulations of highly dynamic natural systems have shown that models of growing complexity are moving slowly toward reasonable replications of reality: global climate modelling is a fine example of this slow, but indisputable, trend. In contrast, forecasts of interactions of social, economic, technical, and environmental developments are not going to improve by making models more complex. This is because so many critical variables determining eventual outcomes cannot be either anticipated or, when they get considered, their probabilities cannot be confidently placed within bounds narrow enough to generate a restricted fan of possible outcomes that might be used in confident decision making. Once the inherent uncertainties make the outcome fan too wide, there is little point in building more complex models: we might have obtained pretty much the same results with a small electronic calculator and the proverbial back of an envelope.

What to Do Instead

Read more of this post