Thursday, April 16, 2015

Keeping It New

One of the challenges I face in teaching carries some risk.  That's the challenge of keeping the content refreshed, and bringing the same level of excitement each time I teach the course.  I first taught each of my operational risk courses as "special topics," and have been teaching them as permanent electives for a couple of years now.  Each of the courses lends itself to updates in the reading material, especially based on recent or current events.

But for the students the challenge is in learning how to have a conversation about certain types of risk, how to make an individual assessment and then provide recommendations for a course of action.  We use a couple of different kinds of skills in class:  discussion among peers, facilitated discussions, presentation by example (myself, themselves, and our guest speakers); and writing for an executive audience.

Along the way, we've had to deal with what it means to be present and contributing in class as a seminar member.  I ask that students listen respectfully, with their laptops turned off, to the presentations.  There are so many challenges for their attention, or for my own, that many of us who teach have reverted to showing them studies of how much more effective it is to take notes by hand rather than on the computer -- assuming that what you were doing was taking notes rather than (for example) checking Facebook or Twitter.

There is so much pressure on students to do well that I think it's also important to stop and smell the roses along the way when you can.  Today we're discussing a variety of articles,  including several that purport to explain behavior, of both rogues and executives.  What happens to the calm, rational process of decision making when you are under pressure?  Do you take bigger risks or do you take the most cautious approach?  I think you'd be surprised at what some of the studies say.


Monday, April 6, 2015

Is it possible to manage our privacy?

 I apologize for the long interval between my last post and this one.

Those who've read Advice From A Risk Detective already have a good sense of what I advise in terms of your online privacy.  But here's a short piece I wrote for a Seattle magazine, The Connector,  that hits the high points.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

We are the architects of our city -- creating the City of Seattle's Disaster Recovery Plan

Last week, students in my risk seminar heard from UW seismologist Bill Steele, in particular about the Cascadia subduction zone we live in, including what advance planning and management of risks associated with a major earthquake can be done in advance.

This week, students will hear from Erika Lund, who oversees the City of Seattle's Disaster Recovery Plan, which is an entirely different framework from which to view a disaster.  Among the questions asked of  the Executive Advisory Group, to which Mayor Ed Murray appointed me, were:  how will the Seattle community handle short and long term recovery efforts?  How can we return our economy, education system, social service network, and other vital aspects of our community to full function?  How can we use a disaster as an opportunity to rebuild our community better than it was before? Who is responsible for making such decisions and with whose input? How and when will they be made?

Erika will describe the planning process today and talk as well about the identification of the core values that are a part of the plan.

Someone asked me yesterday if I don't find the world a very depressing place.  I answered that I do not, in part because of inspired work like this, and the people who give their time to do it.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Juno, we're looking over your shoulder...

Juno (Latin: Iūno [ˈjuːno]) is an ancient Roman goddess, the protector and special counselor of the state. She is a daughter of Saturn and sister (but also the wife) of the chief god Jupiter and the mother of Mars and Vulcan.

Central Park today. Instgaram Photo, Andrew Lee Taylor



Northeast public officials have declared states of emergency in advance of Winter Storm Juno, which is likely to cause significant inconvenience and perhaps dangers to public safety as well -- though that is certainly the point of the emergency declarations.


Of all the stories I've seen, the most charming is from The New Yorker's Andy Borowitz, who trumpeted "FEMA Warning:  Internet Outages Caused by Blizzard Could Force People to Interact."  He's right, it could be a golden opportunity to lay down the technology and spend some time with family, neighbors and friends...and your generator.

Hopefully those who could be affected have stocked up on food, water, batteries, diesel (for the generator), and have made a trip to the library so as to have real books on hand to read.   And a battery-operated radio as well, so as to understand how long the storm will persist.




Monday, January 19, 2015

Attention Deficit Disorder and Risk

Here's an interview with me that PR for People's The Connector magazine published last month, in which I opine on a variety of operational risks, including your own personal risks.

Dear Member of the Board

Here's my latest column for The Risk Universe, that makes some recommendations on how boards of directors can up their game where corporate oversight is concerned  It's called "Dear Member of the Board."

There's a lot of responsibility in any corporation at three levels in particular: senior management, the C-Suite, and boards of directors.  Since the Sarbanes-Oxley Act charges boards with a range of responsibilities, understanding them and just how one can become a smarter board member is essential.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Terrorism in Paris

Another blow this morning to public safety and to the role of satire in our society.  It appears that the terrorist attack and killings were yet another attempt to increase the distrust of large Muslim populations in Europe.  We each are diminished by such slaughter.  The image above is from Twitter.

I'm trying to stay on task despite the events in Paris.  I've finished and shipped a new article titled "Dear Member of the Board" for the January issue of The Risk Universe magazine.  I've accepted two new speaking engagements. And I'm about half way through my lecture notes for the first class in my introductory risk course for UW graduate students tomorrow evening. 

My column for this month's issue of ASA News & Notes will be the next project in the queue, and will look more closely at the increasing reach of terrorism.