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Surviving and Thriving in Uncertainty: Creating The Risk Intelligent Enterprise



Surviving and Thriving in Uncertainty: Creating The Risk Intelligent Enterprise

Frederick Funston, Stephen Wagner

ISBN: 978-0-470-61748-9 June 2010 368 Pages


A new book to help senior executives and boards get smart about risk management

The ability of businesses to survive and thrive often requires unconventional thinking and calculated risk taking. The key is to make the right decisions—even under the most risky, uncertain, and turbulent conditions.

In the new book, Surviving and Thriving in Uncertainty: Creating the Risk Intelligent Enterprise, authors Rick Funston and Steve Wagner suggest that effective risk taking is needed in order to innovate, stay competitive, and drive value creation.

Based on their combined decades of experience as practitioners, consultants, and advisors to numerous business professionals throughout the world, Funston and Wagner discuss the adoption of 10 essential and practical skills, which will improve agility, resilience, and realize benefits:

  • Challenging basic business assumptions can help identify "Black Swans" and provide first-mover advantage

  • Defining the corporate risk appetite and risk tolerances can help reduce

  • the risk of ruin. 
  • Anticipating potential causes of failure can improve chances of survival and success through improved preparedness. 
  • Factoring in velocity and momentum can improve speed of response and recovery. 
  • Verifying sources and the reliability of information can improve insights for decision making and thus decision quality. 
  • Taking a longer-term perspective can aid in identifying the potential unintended consequences of short-term decisions.




Conventional Risk Management.

A Risk Intelligent Approach.

The Approach of This Book.

The Structure of This Book.


CHAPTER 1 To Survive and Thrive: A Matter of Judgment.

The Revolving Door to the Corner Office.

Barriers to Board Effectiveness.

The Imperatives of the Enterprise.

CHAPTER 2 Conventional Risk Management Has Failed.

What Goes Up Must Come Down.

The Evolution of Finance, Market, and Risk Management Theory.

Taking a (Random) Walk.

CHAPTER 3 An Unconventional Approach to Risk Management.

Calculated Risk Taking Creates Value.

Calculated Risk Taking and Risk Aversion.

Risk Intelligence: An Unconventional Approach.


CHAPTER 4 Check Your Assumptions at the Door.

Fatal Flaw #1: Failing to Challenge Your Assumptions.

Risk Intelligence Skill #1: Check Your Assumptions at the Door.

CHAPTER 5 Maintain Constant Vigilance.

Fatal Flaw #2: Lack of Vigilance.

Risk Intelligence Skill #2: Maintain Constant Vigilance.

CHAPTER 6 Factor in Velocity and Momentum.

Fatal Flaw # 3: Failure to Consider Velocity and Momentum.

Risk Intelligence Skill #3: Factor in Velocity and Momentum.

CHAPTER 7 Manage the Key Connections.

Fatal Flaw #4: Failure to Make Key Connections and Manage Complexity.

Risk Intelligence Skill #4: Manage Your Key Connections.

CHAPTER 8 Anticipate Causes of Failure.

Fatal Flaw #5: Failure to Anticipate Failure.

Risk Intelligence Skill #5: Anticipate Causes of Failure.

CHAPTER 9 Verify Sources and Corroborate Information.

Fatal Flaw #6: Failure to Verify Sources and Corroborate Information.

Risk Intelligence Skill # 6: Verify Sources and Corroborate Information.

CHAPTER 10 Maintain a Margin of Safety.

Fatal Flaw #7: Failing to Maintain a Margin of Safety.

Risk Intelligence Skill #7: Maintain a Margin of Safety.

CHAPTER 11 Set Your Enterprise Time Horizons.

Fatal Flaw #8: Short-Termism.

Risk Intelligence Skill #8: Set Your Enterprise Time Horizons.

CHAPTER 12 Take Enough of the Right Risks.

Fatal Flaw #9: Failure to Take Enough of the Right Risks.

Risk Intelligence Skill #9: Taking Enough of the Right Risks.

CHAPTER 13 Sustain Operational Discipline.

Case Example: The U.S. Submarine Force.

Fatal Flaw #10: Lack of Operational Discipline.

Risk Intelligence Skill #10: Develop and Sustain Operational Discipline.


CHAPTER 14 Risk Intelligence Is Free.

A Closer Look at Costs.

The Rewards of Risk Intelligence.

CHAPTER 15 Risk Intelligent Governance.

The Risk Intelligent Board.

Committees of the Board and Risk Intelligence.

Where Does Risk Oversight End and Risk Management Begin?.

CHAPTER 16 Risk Intelligent Enterprise Management.

ERM and Risk Intelligence.

Developing Risk Intelligent Enterprise Management.

Act as One.

A New Way of Doing Business.

CHAPTER 17 The Way Forward: Creating the Risk Intelligent Enterprise.

The Benefits of Improved Risk Intelligence.

What’s Your Enterprise Risk IQ?

Making the Transformation.



About the Authors.


"The authors propose a more holistic approach of "risk intelligence," in which leaders acknowledge and prepare for a wide range of potential threats. The authors isolate ten essential risk intelligence skills-such as abandoning familiar assumptions, anticipating causes of failure, and sustaining operational discipline-and provide in-depth guidelines for how executives and board members can hone these skills. They understand that there is no reward without risk - but only if the risks are properly managed." (BizEd, July/August 2010)