Terminology and Definitions in Risk Management

One of the reasons we started Risks & Ventures is because we wanted to make the discipline of risk management and some of its concepts more accessible to wider audiences beyond just professional risk managers.

We want to do this because we’ve learned from experience that there are lot of people doing jobs where we think if they had a little more understanding of some practical risk management concepts it would be really useful for them and enable them to do their jobs more successfully; but beyond that we also think that there are risk management processes and techniques which, with just a little bit of adaption and flexibility, can be as good as almost anything we have seen in terms of tools to help with productive behaviours like thinking ideas through properly, planning, decision-making and achieving goals and objectives.

Risk management really is part of almost everything we do, and this means that if we can do it a little better then correspondingly we can probably do almost everything a little bit better too.

Risk management for us is not only about trying to prevent bad things happening to us but also trying to achieve our objectives. So if one of our objectives here at Risks & Ventures is to bring risk management concepts to a wider audience, then one of the main ways we would be failing to achieve that objective is if we develop too much highly technical content.

This would not only end up with us probably losing a big slice of the audience we are hoping will read this blog, but at the same time this might also open us up to too much forensic criticism by people who are professional risk managers.

We don’t mind getting forensic criticism from professional risk managers by the way, per se, but if our goal is to make our content accessible and as practical as possible then this inevitably means that we have to make some editorial choices about the level of detail we are able to give on any specific topic.

This all being said, there are going to be some times when we do have to get a little bit technical and this is one of those moments, because we think it is really important to talk about a few key terms and definitions on an early post so that we can refer back to it when we need to.

One of the things you notice when you study for a lot of diverse qualifications in say for example risk management, project management, business continuity, health and safety, and some of the information risk certifications is that you will sometimes find that there are little differences in the key definitions and terminology that are used for different systems, things like how “a risk” and concept of “risk” are defined. It sometimes feels like having to speak a slightly different language.

This doesn’t usually effect the application of the different bodies of knowledge but it does mean than when you are studying for the qualifying exams you have to be careful because there is definitely potential to lose credit from getting your terms mixed up with other approaches; or if you are working on a project where definitions are important you need to make sure that everyone else is also thinking the same way as you are. 

For the avoidance of doubt we therefore just want to make it clear that our default setting in Risks & Ventures will be to follow the definitions and terminology set out in ISO 31000, and if either we or our other contributors are using a different system we will try to remember to let you know.  


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