Saturday 25 April 2015

Communicating Risks: You may not have been duped

Very often you overhear people talking about this particular contractor who gave them a quote for a project only to start adding all sorts of bits and pieces to the original price once the commitment has been made and the project has commenced. The immediate conclusion is that the said contractor must be a crook ripping them off their hard earned cash. While there are definitely a few "cowboys" out there who would not hesitate to have a go at naïve and unsuspecting clients, my experience as a professional is that there are so many reasons why the agreed price of a project, be it building a new house, a flat renovation, or an outdoor festival, cannot be set in stone.  The reason is uncertainty.

Thursday 29 January 2015

Scepticism: A Personal Relationship with Reality

I recently discovered a word that well describes my world view and that is scepticism. Someone said that a sceptic is someone who is passionately unsure. It’s funny but there is so much truth in that definition, especially with the word “passionately”.  Some people are passively unsure and just happy to leave it there. Sceptics, however, are so excited and triggered by uncertainty that they want to find out. It is the belief that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It is the search for evidence that makes one a sceptic. Evidence is not always about feeling, seeing or touching; it is rather about creating the environment for logic and reason to be traded freely without the fear of consequences. It is the bravery to ask the big questions of life and not accepting unfounded myths for answers. It is about not allowing yourself not to know or be exposed to any source of information whatsoever. It is indeed a personal relationship with reality.

Thursday 25 December 2014

Personal Lessons from 2014

I can't believe the year is almost over! 2014 has been a really eventful year that got me thinking so much and sorting out the essence of life and the way forward. It has been full of highs and lows, but there have been many eureka moments.  I thought I would share a few life lessons I am so happy to have learnt during the course of the year, and which I suppose have helped make it such a memorable year.

Life is worth living! You can't believe it but I doubted this statement on so many occasions during the year. My firm conclusion is that there is so much to live for. And I mean really living, not merely existing. However, discovering for myself what living life to the fullest meant or should mean to me was the big inquest. It was worth it. In the end, I was struggling to manage my calendar with my newly found interests and plans.

Monday 16 June 2014

Rebranding my Blog

I started this blog five years ago with a focus on sustainability and environmental issues. I had just completed an MSc in sustainable energy and environment from Cardiff University, and my day job was promoting energy efficiency, government policies and renewable energy to communities and local authorities. I enjoyed it immensely as it offered real life interaction with communities working on real and challenging projects.

Over time, my interest changed a bit with role changes. Project management with all its components became my passion. I had been involved in project management for a while before, but learning to use a structured approach and terminologies such as in PRINCE2 made a lot of difference. It was really pleasing to be involved in managing solar PV installation projects, thus retaining the sustainability slant. It's one think to talk about how good something is, but another thing to get your hands dirty doing those good things. There was a long period of silence which I struggle to explain.

Sunday 1 June 2014

Being in the Risk Response Line

Just imagine for a moment that you have just committed a crime, say you have pinched a very expensive item from your office or a shop. Let's assume the item is worth £5000. Obviously you know you did it but the uncertainty is whether it would be found out that it was you. You took the item carefully when no one was watching and you have either hidden it in a very secret place or have sold it to someone. Despite all your efforts, you have been arraigned as a suspect. 

As with most event risks, there is a certainty of outcome in this situation known as the impact. If you are found guilty, you will be sentenced to five years in prison. However, being a risk, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding being found guilty.

Sunday 27 April 2014

The Risk of Risk Exposure

There are various attributes of a risk such as the cost impact, schedule impact, probability, proximity, exposure and so on. The risk exposure, also known as value at risk, is often taken as being a representative quantification of a risk. It is calculated as the product of the probability or likelihood of a risk occurring and the cost impact if it does happen. There are obvious advantages of this: it is a logical way of prioritising a range of risks for management actions, and it is a good way of summarising a range of risks given that some will occur, and some others will not. It is also very helpful in determining how much money to budget in your risk reserve. 

There are however a few inherent problems and risks with a sole use of the risk exposure in the long term. The first is the tendency to forget that risk exposure is derived from a probability which is a gut feeling or blatantly put, a guess work. It obviously follows that it says nothing of what the impact of the risk will be if it happens. Risk exposure is better

Monday 17 February 2014

Climate Change: Facts, Fictions and Greenwashing

Many years ago, I went for a job interview in a Renewable Energy Agency. Interviewees were strongly advised to travel in the most sustainable way to show their commitment to the environment. The best I could do was travel by train and walk the rest of the distance. During the interview, I was asked how I had arrived, and to my great surprise, my response triggered an uncontrolled hysterical laughter from my interviewers.  They had not expected people to take that instruction seriously, and they did it just to boost their corporate image. The impression was that those kind of climate mitigation measure is a laughing matter and for people commonly referred to as tree huggers. That sounds like what is referred to as green-washing.

The problem with the whole debate on Climate Change is that it has become a religion whereby people are now being classed as either believers or deniers.

Saturday 11 January 2014

How To Lie With Risks

 I first heard about the book "How To Lie With Statistics" while taking a Coursera course on Information Risk Management, and immediately thought I had to give it a go. Having gulped the thought-provoking and illustrative contents in a few days, I know I will never look at statistics and surveys in the same way again. Questions ranging from the reliability, bias, omissions, misrepresentations to unfounded correlations and ridiculous extrapolations will always crop up.

Saturday 7 December 2013

A Month In The Life Of A Risk Analyst

Time flies is a very common and overused cliché often cited by people when they struggle to give an account of what they have been up to. What makes the month I have spent in my new role fascinating is not that it has passed so quickly, but that it seems to have been at least three months. This is because so much has been achieved, so much insight gained, and so much is planned ahead. It is a kind or role where if you didn't have a watch, you would probably forget it's time to go home. Many people seem to arrive work very early in the morning and stay much later in the evening.

Joining a department at a time of transformation can be very exciting but having to lead on this transformation is where the challenges come. Knowing that what you are doing is unique, and that you have been brought in to provide answers and solutions, not ask question, is exhilarating. It also underscores the level of responsibility, innovativeness and independence required.