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Risk in a Blink – The Power of Observation

Everyone expects for a theory or an Apple in a BLINK!

When Newton’s head was bonked by an apple, his bulb just got brightened in a BLINK. He discovered the law of gravity which still exists in every school textbook. “Apple” came to Steve Jobs’ mind in a blink when he was returning from an apple farm. A blink lasts about 1/3rd of a second; 100-200 milliseconds. In a blink, you could observe a pattern, you could experience love at first sight, you could see a sharp drop in the stock market, and so on.

Everyone faces risks and issues in their daily basis every minute and everywhere knowingly or unknowingly, and we try to approach these risks. Many people do not realize that they can observe a risk in a BLINK!

You Can Observe, Analyze, Act & Review a Risk in BLINK!

When you drive a vehicle, let’s pretend that you spot a pothole. You assess the pothole as a risk and observe the severity and probability of the risk damages inside your mind before coming up with mitigation plans such as slowing down the vehicle or to drive across it.

The sensory information along with preventive action plan sends a signal to the mind between 1/5th – 1/2 seconds. That is in 200 – 500 milliseconds; in a BLINK

It all comes to your conscious mind in less than a second. It is also the power of your qualitative observation. Just in a BLINK, you had the ability to come up with several observations and deductions that help you to prevent the risk from turning into an issue.

What is Inside your Mind Palace?

Risk in a Blink - The Power of Observation

Realizing something in a blink also involves a hunch. You may be possibly gifted with a Holmes’ Intuition.

A famous fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes has observation skills where he can read 10-15 situations within a second and then comes up with a theory. Our subconscious mind, in fact, takes in a lot of data every time we blink. It will be harder to find the path to the data lockers of observations inside your mind palace. The action of being delayed may create impatience in your project team and the risk will start to cause a blister in the project.

This is the main reason why every observation or intuition of risk needs to be noted down for assessment and review. It can be noted anywhere; either in a memo, board, log sheet, notepad and even on your palm.

Rich, Richer, Richest– the Class of Risks

You cannot afford to ignore even the smallest risk in the project or process cycle. Its impact should not be underestimated. Every observation should be regarded as first-rate and differentiated into three risk classes – rich, richer and richest.

It is from the simple catchphrase – the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Every risk should always move upward beginning with the rich class because its value cannot be diminished.

Mind’s Clarifying Strangers – System 1 & System 2

The ranking factor, also the level of importance is determined to help measure and assess the order that risks should be addressed. (i.e 3 is more important than 4). The understanding of the risk ranking comes under the power of System-1 thinking – Fast and Intuitive.

Sometimes System-1 has systematic errors and runs into trouble. It asks for processing help from System-2 for decision making. This comes under the risk planning process in the team. This comes under the System-2 thinking – a slow and logical thinking.

Math is a Second Nature Skill.

In fact, there is no definite consensus on the need for risk management within the agile method. It is important to manage risks proactively and it’s possible with a simple recipe of classes and ranks.

Risk Class is one simple math calculation determined by multiplying the severity and occurrence of the risk or issue.

Risk Class = Severity x Occurrence

The risk severity and Probability of Occurrence can be defined by numbers as per its impact like:

• High Risk = 3 • Medium Risk = 2 • Low Risk = 1

100% Probability of Occurrence= 4            25% to 50% Probability = 2
> 50% Probability of Occurrence= 3            < 25% Probability but notable = 1

Why this is the Ideal Approach

The biggest advantage of this approach is the easy assessment for the people with little experience in risk management. The understanding and mingling of both psychological factors (Observation Skill & System-1) will help to create a new and clear signal to the mind and take reasonable steps to approach it.

I hope this blog will get your head bonked with many apples in future.

Thoughts on “Risk in a Blink – The Power of Observation”

  1. Gayathri Narayanan

    Got bonked by your risk management blog. Relating day-to-day life risk assessment with project risk assessment can strengthen project team’s risk identification sensors.

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Arun Ramakrishnan, Lead Quality Assurance Consultant

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