COVID-19: A Risk Management Crisis
In 2020 the world of risk management imploded. After decades of prosperity and consensus-driven policy management, the shift towards policy through precaution had weakened Western governance allowing for a viral outbreak to completely overwhelm health systems, strangle economies and deny basic benefits and social goods.
The Risk-Monger was writing on this crisis before it dominated the headlines, identifying it as a failure in risk management. Several years ago, he had predicted that the only way to address the weakening of policy management through a dependence on precaution was, sadly, to wait until the bodies started piling up. He had anticipated a global famine or mass infections from antimicrobial resistance, and he still feels this to be the major threat. The 2020 coronavirus crisis is not the Big One, but hopefully it will wake us up on the need to protect the fragility of our human existence.
The Post-COVID-19 Blueprint
Precaution is a principle for prosperity where the consequences of bans of substances and blocking of technologies can be absorbed by the wealthy, healthy and privileged. As a risk management tool, it was completely inadequate for the COVID-19 crisis, and the consequences have been catastrophic to our Western social goods and benefits. This article looks at why precaution was never a legitimate risk management tool.
Part 2: A Docilian Detox
Part 3: Reviving Risk Management
To say that Western risk managers were not prepared for the coronavirus crisis is an understatement. Here are ten observations on how the risk management of COVID-19 failed spectacularly in the West in 2020 (and what they should have done).
Two decades of precaution created a zero-risk mindset among populations who had become incapable of managing risks. Regulators have come to nanny these “docilians”, removing any risk management choices or trust in their capacity to make personal choices. COVID-19 is a nightmare scenario as precaution imposed severe restrictions and loss of benefits on a population no longer able to accept risks.
In mid-February I anticipated the eventual rise of the coronavirus crisis but tried to frame it positively as a learning experience. Months later when the West woke up, they did not see this so positively, but the points remain valid. When the Big One does come, we will be more prepared and less able to ignore our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. That is indeed a good thing.