Freud, Fishing and Risk Management. (End Analysis)

By Doonan, Patrick | Risk Management, December 2001 | Go to article overview

Freud, Fishing and Risk Management. (End Analysis)


Doonan, Patrick, Risk Management


The Australian Risk Management Standard AS/NZS 4360 (1999) definition of risk management reads: "The culture, processes and structures that are directed towards the effective management of potential opportunities and adverse effects."

Two words spring to my mind, Freud and fishing. Can you picture Freud, cigar in hand, explaining the inextricable link? The superego--the culture and the ego--the processes and the id--the structures. Or can you see an angler, rod in hand, looking at the vastness of an ocean before him, contemplating a decision on how he will take advantage of his potential opportunities and minimize the adverse effects of failure?

Risk management is an analysis and decision-making process aimed at bringing to the surface normally subconscious thought processes and analyzing them in a structured way in order to make decisions that eliminate, avoid or minimize risk.

This is basically Freudian psychoanalysis: bring out conflicts from the subconscious, analyze them and then manage them on a conscious level. And although you might think that fishing is merely about bringing fish to the surface, it is a thought process that blends primal hunting instincts with scientific analysis.

Consider an angler's decisions prior to embarking on a day of fishing: The risks--both positive and negative--and the decisions are endless. A blend of the esoteric risk manager and the Freudian psychoanalyst effectively deals with the issues at hand.

Step one. Beating those pea-brained, cold-blooded, piscatorial combatants is the organizational context, i.e., meeting the organization's objectives of (angling) dominance through minimal risk taking and maximum outcomes (fish in the bag).

Step two. Identify the issues and risks. The angler digs deep into his subconscious and brings to the surface the neuroses of past failures and happy thoughts of past successes.

Step three. The psychoanalysis stage. Why did he fail before or, more importantly, why did he succeed before? He analyzes the thought processes that led to the decisions made during previous fishing experiences. "My father always used X type of bait when fishing for species Y, but I disagreed. He never used to listen to me, not like Mum." Subconscious issues coming to the surface.

Step four. Evaluate the risks; rank and determine the priorities. This is where the id, ego and superego start to interact, or complicate and obfuscate the issues by disagreeing with each other. An experienced fisherman will utilize logical reasoning and not allow subconscious wrangling to impede his objectives. …

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