We began this site because we were uncertain about the way major risks are usually addressed. We wanted to ask the questions that were not being asked and we wanted to write about niche subjects that were not being sufficiently written. We wanted to understand more.
As students, we were taught that questions are for the benefit of everyone in the classroom, not just the person raising his or her hand. It is with this student spirit that we want you to ask the following as you read our work:
What are the real causes of accidents/losses and how could risks be controlled?
We have found that learning how to carefully craft questions, rather than making big, sweeping predictions or unintelligible engineering statements, makes our research more productive. This is one sure way to expand our range of vision, open new avenues of thinking, and turn our focus back to where it belongs.
So much of our success—in life and at work—depends on asking the right questions. Not every question deserves an answer and there are no right answers to wrong questions. We by no means rush to answers and put the desire to find the truth above all else. We also don't try to be the most informed persons in the room. Not only that would cost us our peace of mind, but also there's a serious opportunity cost too.
Which brings us, somewhat circuitously, to an old tell:
During the French revolution thousands of people were executed by guillotine and there was an understanding that if the blade failed to fall, then the lucky victim was allowed to go free.
An engineer was amongst a group of victims and watched with interest as the blade of the guillotine jammed three times in succession and the three people immediately in front of her walked away free. As she was dragged forward for execution she said to the executioner “ hang on a tick – I can see what’s jamming the blade. It’ll only take me a minute to fix it”.
Even if one keeps one head, the desire to understand how things work is a frustrating business. This is especially so for people with a practical turn of mind. What can be particularly irritating is a long theoretical explanation that leads to an elegant mathematical description of a phenomenon, but which leaves one with no understanding of the event.
The truth is that there is a world of difference between knowing the theory, truly understanding what is happening, and sharing it with others. Nowhere is this more critical than in hazardous environments. It's here where the more we knew, the more skeptical we became about the rosy claims of "risk management". We find that it’s a fool’s errand to make bold predictions about what’s to come and where is the next loss. But we also understand that behind distressed risks, there's always an opportunity.
This struggle was at the heart of our decision to launch our own research and publishing portal. At RiskEngineers.com, one of our goals is to hold ourselves to a higher standard than what we observe in our industry peers. Specifically, we strive for independence, honesty, clarity, and rigor during our model-building process, regardless of any finger pointing. 👇
Our work is focused on providing our readers with the knowledge and perspective to help them influence their own outcomes. Managing risk is not just about resilience and minimizing the downside. It’s also about using knowledge to capitalize on opportunities.