I am a working professional. I have a keen interest in being able to get things done. I earn my income by helping people achieve practical outcomes. That means when management system standards start leaning towards fanciful academic arguments and concepts, I get very irritated. I consider the current direction that the definition of risk has taken (the effect of uncertainty on objectives) as completely unhelpful, this is why.
In the old days …
In the old days (and indeed as I write, so far as OHSAS 18001 is concerned) we defined risk as the combination of the likelihood of an undesirable event, combined with the magnitude of the impact (or variations on that theme). This seemingly outdated way of looking at risk did have some clear advantages;
- It was easy to understand and consequently people understood it
- It provided a means for reducing the subjectivity in risk assessment
- It enabled a rational and sequential framework for risk treatment. That is, people knew it could be reduced either by reducing likelihood, or magnitude of impact or even both
Why change? What on earth was wrong with that? I’ve heard that the new definition introduces the concept of UPSIDE RISKS but SO WHAT? I can’t think of a single instance in my management systems work where I’ve needed to take account of upside risks. Companies may well perform the odd SWOT analysis, but that is NOT management system planning. It’s an input at best. Management systems are there to control and limit the potential for undesirable variation.
How can this happen?
Developing management system standards is a long and laborious process. Ask yourself this. What sort of people can afford the time to stick with the process to its conclusion? There’s your answer. Frankly I think the whole thing has been hijacked by theorists, academics and other people with too much time on their hands, and me and my customers end up on the receiving end of it. Please excuse me if I sound somewhat ungrateful, but until such time the review process finds a way to include the more active and hence busy and successful people, it will always fail to serve what it thinks is its target market.