The future of risk in large-scale complex systems
Presentation to the Foresight Group, 15 November 2019 [1:30 to 4:30 in DMS 7170]
Graham D. Creedy, P.Eng., FCIC, FEIC
Abstract: This presentation examines the difference between formal risk assessment and the challenges faced by those actually making the decisions on managing risk. Many of the insights discussed come from the fields of major accident prevention, safety culture and responsible corporate behaviour. They reveal some of the organizational challenges of managing technological risk in complex environments, drawing on lessons mainly from engineering but also from fields as diverse as finance, health care, aerospace and international affairs. The topic is considered from different perspectives to give participants a sense of why those making decisions on risk control act as they do, and how this understanding can be used to develop more effective strategies for managing risk.
The presentation will briefly discuss:
- the nature of risk and societal control;
- how the philosophy of risk management has developed (and continues to evolve);
- some of the common technical approaches to managing risk.
- The main presentation will then feature an examination of why systems so often fail in actual practice due to sociological aspects of how individuals and organizations make decisions, to show how vulnerabilities arise and also comment on defences that can reduce (though not necessarily eliminate) the likelihood of failure.
- The discussion will then move to implications for risk management in a global society which is rapidly becoming technically more integrated and complex, while it searches for a consistent moral philosophy amid the undercurrents of tribalism, class, etc. which ebb and flow as history evolves.
Bio: Graham Creedy is a chemical engineer and chemist who spent the first half of his career in the chemical industry, operating plants for some of the world’s leading multinational companies. He then provided consulting guidance to a variety of organizations in the private and public sectors, most notably through his role as Senior Manager, Responsible Care for the Canadian Chemical Producers’ Association (now the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada), a position from which he retired in 2009. He is a registered professional engineer in Ontario and a Fellow of both the Chemical and Engineering Institutes of Canada, and teaches risk management at the University of Ottawa, to pass on some of his knowledge to the younger generation of engineers.