Going head to head against cute and cuddly can be risky

One of the most time honoured ways for a celebrity or politician to bolster public opinion is the photo opportunity. The power of cute and cuddly is so great, even Oprah felt she needed to do it.

So it was interesting to see the announcement of a new mathematical model to predict extinction risk for endangered animal species. You can listen to an ABC interview with Cory Bradshaw from the University of Adelaide. While the model seems to be a good tool for understanding the technical merit of the situation, to me it really underscores the need for rigorous risk management practices.

Hairy Nosed WombatComplex decision making processes clearly need to look at far more than just the immediate financial and technical considerations. Risk management practices should be built into the process from the beginning. For many corporate projects, it can be easy for leaders to overlook the potential for risks to occur because of unexpected and/or illegal employee behaviour. Potential reputational and brand image risks might also result directly from a project, or based purely on how a decision is made public.

A well constructed risk management plan should be a part of any large project, and can help identify issues that need to be addressed in change management, and the communications that are needed with stakeholders.

While the ABC seems to think that the hairy-nosed wombat is doomed as a result of this new analysis tool, I suspect it is pretty safe. The list of endangered species in Australia is pretty long, but the prospect of photo opportunities with the hairy nosed wombat will be tough for leaders (and protest groups) to ignore.


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