At Densus risk is an important component of the decision-making process, not a stand-alone discipline. Indeed understanding what risk and uncertainty are, the dimensions along which they act and how these affect the strategic vision and immediate tasks are critical to success. For it is not only our clients’ success that is our goal, but their efficient success, where only the minimum resources – be that time, personnel or cash – must be committed to both achieve the goal and protect against failure.
At Densus we see risk as likelihood – the chance of an effect – occurring. Effects may be positive or negative, and while we can anticipate all effects, it is impossible to anticipate all causes .
Likewise the scale of impact of any single effect is as variable as the likelihood of any particular effect, creating a three-dimensional problem set that must be properly understood before it can be used to drive decision-making.
Risk is not linear; any threat will have impacts that affect as a minimum the following dimensions:
- Operational (the ability to achieve tasks)
- Physical (personnel and infrastructure)
- Financial and other Resources
- Reputational (including political)
Understanding risk as both multi-dimensional and as a decision-making tool rather than a stand-alone discipline enables Densus to structure our assessments to drive cost benefit analyses and decision-making formats; a cost-benefit analysis is, after all, simply a calculation of the cost of taking a particular measure or measures in exchange for a given outcome. The critical component is weighing up the full costs along all dimensions, not simply the cash cost.
Risk must be used for both positive and negative means – to neglect the positive means surrendering value that may be won.
To use protestor-based examples, an effect may be negative such as the invasion of a company headquarters by protestors and the resulting negative publicity resulting from incorrect reactions by security staff leading to injury and lawsuits. Positive effect, or minimal negative effect, is achieved by engaging the protestors before or on their approach to the company headquarters and creating a situation where they achieve their media effect without negatively affecting the bank's operations.
1Isomorphic theory tells us that the same effect may be produced by a range of causes and interactions; that range of interactions are so diverse as to be impossible to predict. However, by understanding the effects and using these as the basis for planning both mitigation and anticipation, we better address the whole need. For instance, the New York Board of Trade’s Business Continuity Plan for their Twin Towers offices did not include terrorist attack using airplanes, but the Plan did include the effects of an earthquake completely destroying the office. The NYBOT was at a functional level again within days, rather than months