Sunday, October 23, 2022

The first two questions in Risk Management

Doing a little risk management?
Here are your first two questions:
  1. Can I afford the downside? (Interpret that question with these rewordings: In effect, can I afford to let the risk go unmanaged, or can I afford to take the risk, given I have a choice?)

  2. Can I improve the chances that the risk event won't happen, or can be somewhat mitigated, if I can obtain more knowledge? (This is the classical epistemological question in risk management)
Given all the climate issues of hurricanes, fires, tornadoes, and melting ice sheets, who's not asked those questions, not only for their personal situation, but also for their business and project situations?

In Florida, around the Kennedy NASA spaceflight center and the Canaveral Space Force Base, those questions are always Topic A. For the hurricane Ian in September, 2022, at great expense and loss of schedule, the Artemis I rocket was rolled back several miles from its launch pad to the safety of the Vehicle Assembly Building. 
  • Increasing knowledge of the hurricane approach clarified and quantified the risk to the on-pad vehicle
  • Loss or damage to the vehicle was perhaps not "unaffordable" but certainly would have been costly not only in absolute value, but enormously costly in utility value (public perception of NASA decision making; cost of investigations; threats to budgets; etc).
    Ergo: NASA mitigated by avoiding the risk of the on-pad of exposure.
Actually, if you follow the pre-launch protocol of any of the NASA, Space Force, or private launches, they are manifestly one of asking those two questions on literally hundreds of risks, threats, and vulnerabilities. 

But of course, it's not only launching space vehicles where these two questions come into play. Almost everything from going to work in the morning to running any kind of project day-to-day is going to engage these two questioins.

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