Glossary of Excuses

Risk.  What is it, exactly?  Here are a few good definitions:

"The possibility of suffering harm or loss; danger."

"Product of the impact of the severity (consequence) and impact of the likelihood (probability) of a hazardous event or phenomenon."

"The quantifiable likelihood of loss or less-than-expected returns."

"The amount of statistical gamble that someone (usually management) is willing to take against a loss. That loss can for example be either in profits, reputation, market share, or franchise."

Ok…so, knowing that all of this is on the line, why do I keep hearing words like, "Underestimated", "Miscalculated", "Unexpected" and "Unanticipated" every time something goes wrong?

I'm unimpressed.

The latest is the crack (or should I say, sun roof) that appeared in the fuselage of a Boeing 737.  As either lawyers or techies, our miscalculations are bad enough, but when these people miscalculate (as in our previous study of Japan's nuclear mishap), other people die!

As a human being, I have to at least give Boeing credit for stepping up to the plate and publicly acknowledging their mistakes.  As an attorney?  Well…that's another matter, entirely.

A company I worked with many years ago hadn't implemented any disaster-planning.  When their catastrophic event occurred (prior to my arrival), they were essentially out of business for close to three weeks before the systems could be rebuilt.  In another incident, one of my direct reports was fooling around with an Exchange server and ended up accidentally deleting one of the accounts.  Too bad it happened to belong to the CEO…

Yep, disregarding risk may result in a death…but in our disciplines, it's more likely to be one of us!