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Risk Management – Lessons Learned From the Titanic

There is perhaps no better story in history that warns against human pride, lack of proper planning, and failings in risk management than the sinking of the Titanic. Portrayed in books and movies, the story of the “unsinkable” ship’s demise (along with 1,500 souls on board) illustrates an important lesson in risk management: without being able to identify and navigate around the “icebergs” of projects, we’re doomed to fail, no matter how unsinkable we imagine our projects to be. The author of the post, Dave Nielsen further elaborates on the point: There may be some lessons for the rest of us in the Titanic disaster. Let’s start with the problem caused by the boast of the “unsinkable” Titanic and the desire to make the passage to New York as quickly as possible. Marketing and speed spoke directly to White Star’s bottom line. There are plenty of organizations that are ready to pay lip service to safety and corporate social responsibility, the ones that are able to demonstrate success are those that put their money where their mouth is. A company, group, or individual that treats these issues seriously will be willing to allocate money to address them. The money should prove to be a sound investment in the long run, because the avoidance of disasters such as the Titanic are immensely expensive, as the folks at BP are finding out in the Gulf of Mexico. The take away is this: no matter the constraints and hurried goals, you must account for potential risks. A project (no matter how impressive), has to consider what can go wrong, how to identify those possibilities, and how to mitigate them.

About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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