Saturday, June 7, 2014

Risk Management

I manage risk. Whether in my work life or personal life, I find that fundamentally my objective is to manage risk to an acceptable level. While in work, a poor showing in my job may result in fines or regulatory oversight, the cool thing is that in my life, poor risk management may result in serious injury or death. And that is cool. And here's why. My gut tells me that for most people, the opposite is true. Failure to perform in their job has greater ramifications than failure to perform in their personal life (unless we are discussing "performance" issues, but since we are not discussing those issues, I think I am on solid ground). I hope that this reversal of risk allows me to have a better perspective on work. If something goes wrong at work, I can think, "Yeah, but at least my rope didn't break causing me to plummet three hundred feet to my gruesome death." A good way to look at it, and an industry standard, is

(Residual Risk) = (Inherent Risk) - (Quality of Risk Management)
(Residual Risk) < or = (Risk Appetite)

I think for climbing, a standard risk appetite would equate to performing at a level where there is little chance of serious injury or death. The inherent risk of each climb is objective. From a different perspective, these climbs are not rated by their difficulty, but by their level of inherent risk (as a general rule). So climbers like Alex Hannold that free solo 5.12, are not taking on any more inherent risk than me, but they are using different techniques of Quality Risk Management ("QRM"). Whereas I rely on bolts, rope, and the occasional curse or prayer, he relies on skill, technique, and experience. The major difference is that my QRM compensates for my lack of skill, technique, etc. whereas his QRM allows for little margin of error. In the end, I may have been able to onsight or free solo a 5.12, onsighting has happened before, and so any ropes and gear would have been overkill, but that is a risk I am not willing to take.So maybe I'm just wrong, but at least it's an original thought, and I'd hate to be unoriginal. And as far as Alex Hannold, at least he has does not go through life unoriginal. But yeah, if he keeps it up, he'll probably die early.

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