Thursday, March 31, 2016

Rehearsing Before Class...

So much about risk management needs to be re-emphasized on the first day of class.  To paraphrase the key points about risk in a new risk guidebook that I've been involved with:
  • Risks are not always negative.
  • If you manage risk, you are managing performance.
  • Managing risks is about managing opportunities.
I've got 13 students registered for this advanced course that looks at whether or not risk is handled differently in the public sector than in the private sector.  Add to this first class an additional seven visitors, who will be entering the MSIM program next fall.

I'm incorporating feedback I received from my winter risk course evaluation.  We'll still have eight guest speakers in the first hour, but then I'm going to take the next hour or so to engage more in a discussion than a lecture, including scenarios that will allow the students to practice the art of risk assessment before they actually have to present at the end of each week. This quarter's guest speakers are superb:

  • Lucianne Phillips, FEMA Regional Private Sector Liaison
  • Mike Hamilton, CEO of Critical Informatics, former City of Seattle CISO
  • Michele Turner, Sr. Compliance Mgr, Microsoft Universal Store
  • Al Wilson, Director of Business Continuity, BECU
  • Todd Mack, Deloitte Tech Risk, Risk and Resilience Director
  • Mike Howard, Microsoft Chief Security Officer
  • Mary Gardner, Information Security Officer, FredHutch
  • Aaron Weller, Director of Cybersecurity and Privacy, PwC 

Off I go....

Monday, March 28, 2016

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." -- William Butler Yeats


Cherry Trees Outside Suzzallo Library, across from Gerberding Hall, University of Washington
 I've had a bit of a spring break.  I spent four days in New York City, speaking at a risk conference and in meetings around future publications and conferences.  I managed to complete annual checkups with my doctors, set up a new trainer who starts this week, and have a lovely day with my sister at the Museum of Modern Art and the Manhattan St. Patrick's Day parade.  That's a lot to accomplish in two weeks, especially when I was grading final papers as well.

Classes for spring quarter begin this week.  I'm teaching on Thursday evenings and managing the Master of Science in Information Management (MSIM) internship program.  Additionally, I've got deadlines on another article for The Risk Universe, final comments on a risk guide for state transportation departments, funded by the National Transportation Board, and the outline of a chapter on conduct risk to be written for a new book on that topic in the Risk Books series from England.

So the fire is lit in me, to be passed on  to my students this quarter.  I have never done just one thing at a time.  The possibilities seem endless. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Winding down the winter quarter

A university quarter is ten weeks long of instruction, followed by a finals week.  Not enough time to drill all the way down on so many topics.  In the operational risk course, we've had spectacular presentations on 9/11 and its aftermath, and (last week) on the Paris ISIS attacks last year.  In the ethics, policy and law course, the most interesting component of the course turns out to be the weekly reflections (250-500 words) that students turn, referencing both the readings and the class discussion in the prior week.  Both courses have had outstanding speakers -- a total of 15 speakers for me to coerce into speaking, then coordinate appearances in the classroom.  I'm feeling a bit nostalgic this week since it's the last week I lecture.  Next week, in both classes, students present executive summaries of the long papers they will have written by then.  From experience I know that at least several of them will be publishable.

I see the overlap clearly between how we think about risk and the critical thinking we bring to it from the ethics, policy and law framework where information management is concerned.  Because of what is going on in the world, both classes this week will address the important Apple v. FBI court case that somehow incorporates all the elements we've been talking about.  Code is free speech, says Apple, invoking the First Amendment as well as due process.  Just this once since we screwed up and changed the password, says the FBI.  This puts the case at the heart of questions around government overreach since 9/11 as well as citizens' privacy and Constitutional protections.

Even as we take this up one more time, our guest speakers are illustrative of the other issues we discuss:  in the risk class, our guest speaker is UW seismologist Bill Steele; and our group presentation will be on the Japanese earthquake/tsunami/nuclear reactor event several years ago.  In the ethics class, our guest speaker is UW Law Professor Kathleen O'Neill, to speak on intellectual property.  She's spent years on this topic, and I look forward to her remarks to the mid-career students, with what is bound to be a vigorous and lively discussion.