Risk or uncertainty

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

This is interesting: Results of an experiment in risk and uncertainty management.

Short version: talking about risk narrows the amount of information you will gather; talking about uncertainty leads to richer (and more optimistic) conversations. My own spin is that it’s really good to acknowledge nay embrace, uncertainty. The language of risk tends to close us down to opportunity.

Slightly longer version from the report itself:

For good reasons a debate has been raging among risk management specialists about whether risk management should concern itself with unexpectedly good outcomes and favourable events as well as bad outcomes and unfavourable events. Linked to this has been a debate about what words or phrases to use to communicate this change of scope.

One suggestion has been to talk about “uncertainty” management instead of mentioning “risk.” In theory this should have two beneficial effects: (1) It is open about whether things are negative or positive, and (2) for some people it suggests a more general kind of ignorance than “risk” and should encourage more information gathering. Both effects help encourage people to get their mental blinkers off and see more of the possible futures.

The results of this experiment, based on 36 participants across four alternative wordings, are that asking people for “areas of uncertainty” did indeed lead to a dramatic fall in the proportion of purely negative outcomes considered. There was also a tendency to list more actions that involved finding out more, suggesting a greater interest in reducing ignorance.

Share Post:

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email

Stay Connected

More Updates

Grit and pearls

Grit before pearls

Ben Schott has a go at the paradoxical blandness of supposedly disruptive startups: Welcome to your bland new world. It’s easy to get stuck in