Maps and Territories

As I have often said, the risk bowtie is a map. Thinking of it as a map means that it leverages the mental and historical baggage that has been attached to the modelling of territories, including in the risk domain.

Two maps I particularly like are this one, supposedly drawn up by the Iraqi Ministry of Information and distributed in cigarette packets prior to the US invasion. It was to show the populace the layers of protection that lay between them and the opposing forces:

And this one, with the bowtie’s full preventative and mitigative elements arraigned between the surging waters and the evacuees:

Both, speak for themselves.

These came to mind when reading this article from Farnam Street, discussing some aspects of financial risk, but with enough anecdotes to fill a face with a “thank god that wasn’t me” smile of relief.

Point being, I had always assumed that control verifications and the bowtie analysis process (singular and joint contributors to our growing success), were just the two halves of the one process, the wheel within the wheel, or the ying’s inevitable yang.

Whereas the real strength in verifications is the disdain, the put-up or shut-up challenge they thrown down to the bowtie’s risk map: its colour coordinated, row upon row of causality, haphazardly skewed to a workshop’s will.

In the bowtie’s mapping of territorial possibility, the verification demands “where do we stand, now!?”, and in doing so, eliminating uncertainty, marking that spot with an X.

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