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The Failure of Risk Management: Why It's Broken and How to Fix It Hardcover – April 27, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (April 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470387955
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470387955
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"…shows how to identify and fix hidden problems in risk management. He uses real world examples to reveal serious problems in common quantitative and qualitiative approaches to risk analysis." (Book News, August 2009)

From the Inside Flap

The 2008 credit crisis, terrorism, Katrina, computer hackers, and air travel disasters all have something in common-the methods used to assess and manage these risks are fundamentally flawed. If risks cannot be properly evaluated, risk management itself becomes the biggest risk. The Failure of Risk Management shows you how to identify and fix these hidden problems in risk management.

Ineffective risk management methods, often touted as "best practices," are passed from company to company like a bad virus with a long incubation period: there are no early indicators of ill effects until it's too late and catastrophe strikes. Exploring why risk management fails—the failure to measure and validate methods as a whole or in part; the use of components known not to work; and not using components that are known to work—The Failure of Risk Management shows you how to measure the performance of risk management in a meaningful way, identify where risk management is broken, and fix it.

Respected expert and bestselling author Douglas Hubbard-creator of the critically praised Applied Information Economics (AIE)—uses real-world examples to reveal the serious problems in our current approaches to risk analysis. Hubbard skillfully illustrates how to use a calibrated risk analyses approach, and the many benefits that go along with it, along with checklists and practice examples to get you started.

One of the first resources to apply risk management across all industries, The Failure of Risk Management provides you with the tools you need to hit the ground running with radically better risk management solutions.

Here, you'll discover:

  • The diversity of approaches to assess and mitigate risks
  • Why many influential methods-both qualitative and quantitative don't work
  • Why we shouldn't always trust assessments based on "experience" alone
  • The fallacies that stop you from adopting better risk management methods
  • How those who develop models of risks justify (in error) excluding the biggest risks
  • Adding empirical science to risk management

Customer Reviews

Highly recommended for anyone interested in doing risk management competently.
Douglas A. Samuelson
In this book Mr. Hubbard lays out the basics of risk management and explains why many risk management methods are worse than useless.
Rich Johnson
Once you get to this point in the book, you will find it very difficult to disagree.
Steven Kirkpatrick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Rich Johnson on May 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
How do we know if our risk management methods are working? Would we notice if they were not working? What are the consequences if they are not working? These are the three basic questions that Douglas Hubbard asks in his book The Failure of Risk Management.

In this book Mr. Hubbard lays out the basics of risk management and explains why many risk management methods are worse than useless. He also provides some ideas and first steps to fix the problem.

Here's a brief walk though 'The Failure of Risk Management':

Part I introduces the history of risk management and the problems with modern risk management methods. Independent events, for instance, are often times not independent at all. This common-mode failure is unaccounted for by many managers, yet can be devastating in an emergency.

Part II of the book goes in depth with some of the problems and failures of risk management, and to me was the most interesting part of the book. Chapter 4 is called The "Four Horseman" of Risk Management, and describes the differences between what the author considers the four main classes of risk managers. The four classes are actuaries, "war quants," economists, and management consultants. Each group has distinctly different methods and areas of expertise, as well as different levels of validation.

Chapter 5 is about how risk should be defined, and why different people may actually be talking about different things when they discuss volatility and risk. Chapter 6 breaks down why humans are not good at subjective methods (which lays the ground work for later chapters introducing quantitative methods). There are a few "calibration" tests available for you to see how overconfident you are in your decision making.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Steven Kirkpatrick on January 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been involved in business consulting, investment management, business valuation and corporate governance for most of the past 25 years, and I can say without hesitation that Doug Hubbard's book on The Failure of Risk Management is an outstanding and elucidating work. I have never been a risk manager per se, but I have frequently been deeply involved in risk assessment and risk management activities, so I do have firsthand experience in this topic.

This book is an eye opener from the outset. In Part One of his book ("An Introduction to the Crisis") Hubbard begins with fundamental, obvious questions about risk management that everyone (not just risk managers!) should be asking. For example: How do you know that your risk management program is effective? Would anyone in your organization know if your risk management program didn't work? (...and how would they know - and define - that it wasn't working?). These are very simple, obvious questions, yet I have never heard them asked by management teams or even members of boards where I have served as director. Alas, there is a huge "placebo effect" in so much of what passes for risk management nowadays - perhaps that is why it is so popular.

For example, consider the following: If risk management programs really do work, then it seems logical to assume that companies in a given industry with a (self proclaimed) "highly effective" risk management program would show greater shareholder returns, less earnings volatility, and better safety and regulatory compliance records than other companies in their peer group who lack such a program. Yet there appears to be no valid evidence that current risk management practices, taken as a whole, serve to improve overall corporate performance. The evidence just isn't there.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Johan Braet on January 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is a must for every professional, undergraduate, graduate or post-graduate student dealing with risk management. Douglas Hubbard manages to combine proper mathematics with the basics of measurement and still keeping things within reach of an audience that does not necessarily has to have too much mathematical skills. Speaking of experience, I started as a PhD in Physics using Monte Carlo for simulating Magnetic forces in semiconductor interfaces. Then I transposed these methods more than 20 years ago to medical equipment, did some work in safety, environment, food hygiene and finally ended up in innovation and entrepreneurship. All of these tracks have an intensive relation with risk. I saw many of the errors (and even more) in risk management as (nearly literally) described in this book. So the level of relevance is there.

The treatment in three parts is well done, the structure is both professional and inviting to read more. The skill Douglas Hubbard apparently has in combining almost prosaic phrases with good scientific content, makes this book to be a reference book and a novel at the same time. An example for many of us (including me) that do not have this skill. I applied already formerly likewise approaches but with the reading of the book, I succeeded in leaving some very heavy (and expensive) calculation programs for the marvelous and illicit Excel sheets Douglas is posting on his website, at least for some applications. As a tutor I take the book of Douglas and leave the "heavy programs" for later on. This "step up" is amazing for students as they get gradually into the complexity of the matter.

I read some of the negative critics and think some of the people did not read the book properly.
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More About the Author

Douglas W. Hubbard is the inventor of Applied Information Economics (AIE). He is an internationally recognized expert in the field of measuring intangibles, risks, and value, especially in IT value, and is a popular speaker at numerous conferences. He has written articles for InformationWeek, CIO Enterprise, and DBMS magazine. His AIE method has been applied to dozens of large Fortune 500 IT investments, military logistics, venture capital, aerospace, and environmental issues. Doug is the author of How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business (Wiley).

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The Failure of Risk Management: Why It's Broken and How to Fix It
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