From the News: Using Resilient Risk Management to Fight the Ebola Epidemic

How do you address risks that are uncertain in impact and outcome?
The PMBOK Risk management process attempts to identify specific mitigation responses to pre-determined scenarios.  Risks with unknown impacts can’t have a pre-determined risk mitigation strategy – or can they?

In a recent article printed on the Harvard Business Review website, NPR wrote about a group of risk management experts who looked back to the Black Death to recommend ways to address uncertain risks with unknown impacts.

The researchers coined the term ‘Resilient Risk Management’ to describe a risk management approach where the team focuses on trying to recover from the Unknown as quickly as possible.  As Igor Linkov, one of the co-authors of the paper wrote, “Can we design our countermeasures in a way that no matter what the threat is we still manage to do our best to recover fast?”  I like the idea, but doesn’t this sound like a wrinkle on Disaster Management?

As defined in Wikipedia: Disaster management (or emergency management) is the effort of communities or businesses to plan for and coordinate all personnel and materials required to either mitigate the effects of, or recover from, natural or man-made disasters, or acts of terrorism.  Disaster Management has a phased lifecycle (prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery) as well.

On the other hand, reframing the process by changing its name might wake people up from the nightmare that all of the suffering and death caused by this virus is inevitable.  Resilient Risk Management sounds a lot more proactive than Disaster Management.  What do you think?  Leave a comment or send me a tweet.  My id is jgodfrey.

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