Do we hide our risky decisions by normalising them?

We tend to normalise our decisions that involve risk, so that a level of risk we have previously accepted can become the defacto standard for future decisions.   See an excellent article by James Meigs.  Meigs’ article re-affirms many of the systemic risk management challenges described in previous RiskIQ blog posts.  Have a scan though the posts in this site and see what you think.

It also calls into question James Reason’s Swiss Cheese Model – which is useful only if ‘holes’ in the Swiss cheese are small compared with the cheese.  If the holes are very large – of course they line up!!   With the potential for emergent outcomes such as those described by Meigs the use of the Swiss Cheese Model can be part of the problem – helping to blind us to the real risks inherent in decisions we take.

One conclusion is inescapable – we need to be much more effective at finding, understanding and responding to systemic (complex, intangible, cross-boundary, pervasive, inter-connected) risks.