About

Clouds of Vagueness is a website devoted to improving the processes used in organisational risk management.  It is run by me, Andy Garlick.  I’ve been involved in risk for 30 years now, one way or another, and for most of that time I’ve worked as a consultant to companies on their risk issues.  This period has coincided with dramatic growth in risk management so I’ve got some pretty strong views about how it’s done.

I’ve taken my inspiration from Ken Arrow’s famous quotation, “our knowledge of the way things work, in society or in nature, comes trailing clouds of vagueness.”  This for me is a marvellously evocative statement of the challenge facing organisations dealing with an uncertain future.  This challenge is greatly understated in most risk management text books and standards, and this had led to what I think is a simplistic and ineffectual risk management industry.  See the rest of the site for details and examples.

The challenge is important.  Arrow goes on to say, “vast ills have followed a belief in certainty,” and there is now plenty of literature expressing our inability to foresee what might happen and do something about it.

That means, of course, I don’t have all the answers.  My appreciation of the issues and solutions is distinctly foggy.  In fact I’m thinking of adopting an alter ego called Cloudy for my Wanderings blog posts.  Cloudy is confused, amused and desperate for a bit of sense.  The clouds of vagueness swirl around him.  I hope readers of the website, if any, will contribute to improving the situation.

This site has three types of post:

  • reviews to provide a critical overview of what others are thinking and doing
  • articles to build on this and start to propose some of the solutions
  • wanderings (I wandered lonely as a … geddit?), a blog to let me?Cloudy record my random thoughts as they happen.

For the time being I have to ask for the reader’s indulgence on the state of the what’s been posted.  I started compiling this site in November 2012 from material to hand, in many cases rough notes.  There’s a lot I want to cover so I expect it to take a couple of months to get the necessary editing done to present a reasonable accurate and coherent picture.  After that, I’m fully responsible for the stuff I’ve written.

As for me, I now work as an independent risk consultant.  My company is The Risk Agenda and you can find out more about that from its website.  I’ve written a book on estimating risk and got halfway though another one on the risks of climate change before the day job got in the way and the publishers went elsewhere.  So although this is primarily a site about the risk management process – how we do it – rather than the content – what the risks are and what we do about them – there will be stuff about climate change and other risks to provide examples and focus.

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