Saturday, August 31, 2013

Risk management charade

A while back I attended a workshop with a client. It was to develop a corporate risk management 'framework' (as they like to say these days). The workshop was facilitated, and probably at great expense (more original art works on partners' walls), by a major consulting firm. Let's call them King Prince.
In what was clearly a canned presentation, that had nothing to do with my client's business (the business is in health services), our bright young facilitator's first text book question was "what is [company name's] appetite for risk?"
OK, so let's think about his. What was [company name's] appetite for risk? That is, how many people should die each year from iatrogenic causes? Is that it?
In this question both the facilitator and the firm, let's abbreviate it to KP, shot their credibility. We continued the workshop politely, but left in awe at their misreading of a client's business.
I wondered how much my client paid for this tosh.
Of course risk appetite has a place, as a question. But its place is more in the world of finance, hedging and portfolio management, were risk can be objectively (sort of) assessed, priced, and managed. It has a completely different place in health provision where death is not tolerated (from non-natural causes, that is), but investigated and avoided.

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