RiskTech Forum

Risk Management Metaphors

Posted: 26 November 2012  |  Author: Manoj Kulwal


Using metaphors is a great way to communicate/share new or broad concepts. It helps audience easily absorb a concept within their existing mental framework and thus facilitates meaningful communication.

As Risk Management is a broad and evolving concept, many business managers and even some risk managers may struggle to fully understand the true objectives and benefits of Risk Management. What metaphors do you use to communicate about Risk Management to business managers within your organisation?

Some of the good ones I have heard and used are highlighted below: -

- Risk Management is like brakes in a car. If your journey involves lots of bends and starts and stops, your brakes need to work correctly to allow you to reach your destination safely. No one would sit in a car if they knew that the car does not have brakes or brakes are not functioning correctly. [Source - Unknown]

- Fire Fighters fight fire after the fire has started. Fire Marshals prevent fire by taking precautionary measures. Does your organisation have more Fire Fighters or Fire Marshals? [Source - Unknown]

- Operational Risks should be viewed like cockroaches - they hide well, multiple quickly, and are everyone's problem to stomp out. [Source - http://www.americanbanker.com/bankthink/operational-risk-management-cockroaches-1044347-1.html]

- Risk Management should be like an orchestra where multiple musical instruments [e.g. credit risk managers, operational risk managers, insurance officers, auditors, board etc.] should be played in harmony to make music - else all your hear is unbearable noise. [Source - Norman Marks used this for GRC here - http://normanmarks.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/grc-metaphor/. So I have taken the liberty of using similar metaphor for Risk Management.]

What are your favourite Risk Management metaphors?