The Fosbury Flop

When will risk management have its Fosbury Flop moment?

Our good friends at Wikipedia describe well what the Flop is:

The Fosbury Flop is a style used in the athletics event of high jump. It was popularized and perfected by American athlete Dick Fosbury first in 1965 and whose gold medal in the 1968 Summer Olympics brought it to the world’s attention. Over the next few years the flop became the dominant style of the event and remains so today. Before Fosbury, most elite jumpers used the straddle technique, Western Roll, Eastern cut-off or even scissors jump to clear the bar. Given that landing surfaces had previously been sandpits or low piles of matting, high jumpers of earlier years had to land on their feet or at least land carefully to prevent injury. With the advent of deep foam matting high jumpers were able to be more adventurous in their landing styles and hence experiment with styles of jumping.

We have taken the liberty of bolding some points so we can continue with our sporting / risk management analogy.

There is no one person / organisation that has popularized and perfected how to do risk management?  Is risk management any more of an art than seeing how high one can jump?  Why is it that no-one has stood out from the crowd?

Once we see a new style – as with Dick Fosbury’s revolution – it becomes the dominant way of doing things.  The closest we have to a “dominant” way of doing things would be structures that professional organisations or standard setting bodies seek to impose.  They are helpful but can it said that they are truly dominant.

Everyone did high jump a particular way because of the limitations / consequences of the landing.  You can see where we are going here can’t you – we do risk management the way we have always done it because there are limitations.  But those limitations are in our imagination.

For in the same way that the advent of deep foam matting allowed high jumpers to be more adventurous so too does risk management have its own deep foam matting equivalent.  It is called data analytics.  Real and true data analytics.

There was a October 1968 New York Times article at the time of Fosbury’s transformative moment.  The last stanza sums up the challenge risk management needs to embrace:

However, Fosbury foresees the day when boys all over America will be soaring over bars upside-down. “I think quite a few kids will begin trying it my way now,” he said. “I don’t guarantee results, and I don’t recommend my style to anyone. All I say is if a kid can’t straddle, he can try it my way.”

Time for risk management to try another way!

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