four beasts for risk assessment

Subject: four beasts for risk assessment
From: "Jane Carnall" <jane -dot- carnall -at- digitalbridges -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 15 May 2001 13:30:36 +0100

This is a work-related question. An internal system of risk assessment is in
use at my company, and no one is quite sure of its origin. Risks are defined
as either
high-probability or low-probability, and either high-risk or low-risk.

High-prob/High-risk: tiger
Low-prob/High-risk: crocodile
High-prob/Low-risk: kitten
Low-prob/low-risk: poodle

The manager in charge of a project should worry about tigers *all the time*.
Tigers can turn up at any time and can cause a lot of damage. When not
worrying about tigers, a wary eye should be kept out for crocodiles. You're
not likely to tread on a crocodile, but if you do, the bite is as painful as
a tiger's. Between worrying about tigers and watching out for crocodiles,
stop the kittens: kittens are everywhere, bouncing around, but they're
basically harmless. Finally, don't spend time worrying about poodles at all:
you hardly ever see them and they cause almost no damage.

This is an absolutely charming way of defining risk management, but the man
who told me about it has no idea where it came from. They used it
(internally) in his old company, and he knows that it came from another
company that someone else worked for, but they used it internally there as
well. Does it sound familiar to anyone here, and can they tell me where
from? (I will post the answer to the list, but I don't think Eric would
appreciate multiple comments on what's the best risk assessment system to

I've asked on the copyeditor's list, and checked on Google, but with no
success. It may not be with the same animals, of course (though I love the
kittens). Anyway, I'm hoping it's from somewhere where we can borrow it with
proper credit and use it in the manual, but even if not, it would be
satisfactory to source it somewhere definite.

Jane Carnall
Technical Writer, Digital Bridges, Scotland
Unless stated otherwise, these opinions are mine, and mine alone.


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