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Preparing for a Black Swan Risk

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Hello to everyone,

you all know that I am a fan of Nasim Taleb and one of my favorite books is “The Black The_black_swan_taleb_coverSwan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable“, released on April 17, 2007. So, during my internet research, I have found the following papers about “Black Swans Risks” and I want to share with you.

Black Swans Risks

Black Swans are defined as rare, random, and high-impact events and are characterized to be catastrophic and broad.   However, many argue these events are occurring more and more frequently: massive earthquake in Haiti (2010), coal ash spill in Tennessee (2008), and Hurricane Katrina (2005). Some skeptics believe, in hindsight, that these events should have been identified because post-event investigations found warning signs that signaled such an event was likely to occur that experts failed to see in their predictions. In reality, Black Swan events still continue to be unpredictable and unpreventable. Although you can’t prepare for every scenario, but you can establish principles and protocols to be better prepared for the unexpected. A recent thought paper by Ernst & Young explains how to do that.

Principles for Preparing for and Responding to a Black Swan

The paper provides broad-based principles that can be applied to any organization. black-swanHaving these principles in place before the Black Swan event occurs is crucial to an effective recovery. Here is a brief summary of the core principles:

  1. Establish response goals, assigning leadership to meet those goals and establishing reporting channels during the crisis.
  2. Establish immediate response goals and values in order to limit the impact before a formalized plan is developed.
  3. Empower local leadership and personnel to recognize and mitigate emerging catastrophic risks.
  4. Plan and execute redundant mitigation responses in case the primary response fails.
  5. Know your resources and how to use them during a catastrophe. Leaders should keep track of internal and external recourses including personnel, financial, and physical resources.
  6. Incorporate outside perspectives and experiences into their response strategy.taleb-5
  7. Remain objective throughout the process when analyzing, discussing, and responding to catastrophic risks.
  8. Maintain the moral high ground by planning and executing responses based on what is right, rather than planning for only the company’s best interest.
  9. Challenge your response strategy with an independent perspective to help identify weaknesses before the Black Swan does.

Response Protocols for a Catastrophe

The paper includes some basic protocols for responding to a Black Swan. The following protocols are not designed to be a step-by-step process but rather a general basis for responding:

  1. Develop risk recognition criteria in order to know when and how to respond.Black_Swan_White-Paper
  2. Develop a quick response team led by a senior manager, typically the COO. This team should include personnel from across the business functions and external advisers. The team should concentrate on containing and minimizing the event.
  3. Create a response team of leaders who should assess the situation, understand the risks faced, and response goals in order to quickly initiate the correct response plan.
  4. Develop multiple response options and categorize them base on largest contribution toward response goals.
  5. Evaluate each option by considering its risk/reward and whether the organization has the capabilities to carry out the plan. Critical assumptions should be documented during this process for future reference.Societe Generale Black Swan
  6. Implement the response following the guidelines and procedures previously established during pre-event planning.
  7. Assess continually the effectiveness of the response by making corrections as need. After the event, management should discuss lessons learned and incorporate these lessons into training and future response planning.


Black Swans are unpredictable but can be prepared for by establishing identification cigno-nero-black-swanmethods, response goals, and quick response strategies before the event occurs. The principles and protocols that Ernst and Young provided in this thought paper are intended to help guide your organization to establishing a response strategy. Taking this approach can provide your organization with a number of benefits including but not limited to reputation protection, a faster return normal business, and minimization of the impact.

Click the link below to download the thought paper.

Link: Ernst & Young

Ref: https://erm.ncsu.edu/library/article/risk-planning-blackswan


The Ultimate Goal of Risk Management

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Hello to everyone,

below you can watch a number of interesting videos by Rod Farrar  from Paladin servises.

  1. The ultimate goal of Risk Management


2. Building Risk Management Culture


3. Risk Management vs. Crisis Management


Thank you Rod!!!

Το επόμενο σεμινάριο μας ξεκινάει στις 21 Φεβρουαρίου 2017 και υλοποιείται εξ αποστάσεως μέσω της σύγχρονης πλατφόρμας της Human Asset!


Περισσότερες πληροφορίες: 

Νέο εξ’ αποστάσεως σεμινάριο Risk Management της Human Asset στις 21 Φεβρουαρίου 2017

More info at:


Δείτε τι είπαν παλιότεροι συμμετέχοντες:

Σχόλια Συμμετεχόντων

Ειδικές τιμές για όσους στον παρελθόν παρακολούθησαν προγράμματά μας!

Η ομάδα έχει αρχίσει να συμπληρώνεται και οι ελεύθερες θέσεις είναι περιορισμένες για καλύτερη ποιότητα του προγράμματος. 


Note: “PMI”, “PMP”, and “PMBOK Guide” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Νέα διπλή επιτυχία στις εξετάσεις του Risk Management μέσα σε 6 ημέρες!!! Συγχαρητήρια στην Μαρία και τον Χρήστο!!!

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Θερμά συγχαρητήρια στη Μαρία και στον Χρήστο, οι οποίοι τις προηγούμενες 6 ημέρες ολοκλήρωσαν με επιτυχία την προσπάθεια τους για απόκτηση της πιστοποίησης Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP) και μάλιστα με εξαιρετική βαθμολογία!!

Αμφότεροι είχαν παρακολουθήσει εξ αποστάσεως σεμινάρια Risk Management στην Human Asset από την Ελβετία και την Γερμανία που αντίστοιχα εργάζονται και ας θυμηθούμε τι είχαν δηλώσει μετά πέρας των σεμιναρίων που συμμετείχαν:

Maria Angelopoulou, Project Manager, Swan Systeme AG, PMP, PMI-RMP (5ο εξ αποστάσεως σεμινάριο): 

“Athanasios was my trainer at the e-learning training for Project Risk Management ( RMP- PMI). Athanasios is passionate with his work and her is always willing to help his students with any issue that they may deal. He put all his efforts to help his students to succeed at the certificate of the test. The course went smoothly and the interactive character helped me to understand better the processes and terms of Risk Management.”

Christos Fouzas, Civil Eng.-Construction Manager, PMP, PMI-RMP (7ο εξ αποστάσεως σεμινάριο):  :

 “Ένας εξαίρετος εκπαιδευτής με βαθιά γνώση του αντικειμένου. Η επιτυχία των συμμετεχόντων είναι σίγουρη. Όποιος παρακολουθήσει το σεμινάριο σίγουρα θα δει το Risk Management από μια διαφορετική οπτική γωνία, πιο φιλική και εμπεριστατωμένη.”

Ευχόμαστε κάθε επιτυχία και στους 2. 

Αν θέλετε να μάθετε περισσότερα για το επερχόμενα εξ αποστάσεως σεμινάριο “Risk Management” από 21 Φεβρουαρίου 2017:

Εξ αποστάσεως σεμινάριο Risk Management από 21 Φεβρουαρίου 2017


Fourtounas Athanasios, at.fourtounas@gmail.com ή +306946003220 (Trainer)

Also read what our participants have comment after the seminars.

Ειδικές τιμές για όσους στον παρελθόν παρακολούθησαν προγράμματά μας!

Το σεμινάριο προσφέρει 20 PDUs για όσους κατέχουν πιστοποίηση PMP

* PMP, PMI, PMI-RMP and PMBOK Guide are registered trademarks of Project Management Institute, Inc

Ξεκίνησε το 9ο σεμινάριο Risk Management στην Θεσσαλονίκη από 03 Δεκεμβρίου 2016!!!

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Το 9ο σεμινάριο “Risk Management in Projects” της Human Asset από 03 Δεκ 16 στην Θεσσαλονίκη είναι γεγονός. Οι 7 συμμετέχοντες του σεμιναρίου τις πρώτες 2 ημέρες, ασχολήθηκαν με τα process του Risk Management που αφορούν το “Risk Management Plan” και το “Identify Risks” κατανοώντας τη θεωρία μέσω ενός workshop. Το 2ο μέρος συνεχίζεται το 3ήμερο 16-17-18 Δεκ 16.

Σε κάθε συμμετέχοντα στα σεμινάρια μας παρέχεται ένα πλήρες σετ σημειώσεων με γραφική ύλη, ένα βιβλίο Study Guide καθώς και πλήθος ηλεκτρονικού υλικού για την ολοκληρωμένη προετοιμασία σχετικά με την εξέταση για τη απόκτηση της Διεθνώς Πιστοποίησης “Risk Management Proffessional – PMI-RMP” αλλά και για εφαρμογή των διδαχθέντων στην εργασία τους.

Επίσης, ενημερωθείτε για το 8º εξ’ αποστάσεως σεμινάριο Risk Management μέσω της πλατφόρμας της Human Asset που ξεκινάει την Τρίτη 21 Φεβρουαρίου 2017. Η υλοποίηση του πραγματοποιείται σε 9 συναντήσεις 4 εκπαιδευτικών ωρών μέσω σύγχρονης πλατφόρμας τηλεκπαίδευσης κάθε Τρίτη και Πέμπτη από 19:30 μέχρι 22:30 (ώρα Ελλάδος).


Περισσότερες πληροφορίες στα:

Δείτε τι είπαν παλιότεροι συμμετέχοντες:

Σχόλια Συμμετεχόντων

Η ομάδα έχει ήδη αρχίσει να συμπληρώνεται και απομένουν ελάχιστες θέσεις….

Note: “PMI”, “PMP”, and “PMBOK Guide” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

The beginning of the 7th PMI-RMP® online Prep course September- October 2016 is a fact!

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The beginning of the 7th PMI-RMP® – Risk Management Professional online prep course is a fact.

Five participants, located in England, Quatar, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus and Germany, are gaining deep knowledge concerning Risk Management but also are starting to prepare for the PMI-RMP exam according to the PMI® standards. The seminar will be concluded after 9 training sessions through Human Asset’s Group company synchronous training platform.

Εξ αποστάσεως Μαρ 16 (2)But the preparation and support doesn’t stops here. For the following weeks after the completion of the course, the participants will receive a lot of study material and mock tests through the asynchronous training platform of Human Asset Group Company in order to be successfully prepared for the PMI-RMP exam and acquire the certification.

If you want to learn more about “Risk Management”, get informed for our new Risk Management courses (in class or online) at:


Read here what previous participants have said about their experience

Επιτυχίες RMP για 2014-2016

Note: “PMI”, “PMP”, and “PMBOK Guide” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Νέο σεμινάριο “Risk Management in Projects” στις 05 Νοεμβρίου 2016 στην Αθήνα!

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Το 8ο σεμινάριο “Risk Management in Projects” της Human Asset στις 05 Νοεμβρίου 2016 στην Αθήνα είναι γεγονός. Tα έτη 2014-2015-2016 οι συμμετέχοντες των σεμιναρίων μας Risk Management για την πιστοποίηση PMI-RMP ήδη εργάζονται σε 17 διαφορετικές χώρες ανά την υφήλιο ενώ όσοι έδωσαν τις εξετάσεις απέκτησαν την πιστοποίηση! Ποσοστό επιτυχίας 100%.

Το πρόγραμμα προσφέρει 20 PDUs και μπορεί να επιδοτηθεί εξ ολοκλήρου από τον κωδικό ΛΑΕΚ-ΟΑΕΔ ενώ για παλαιότερους συμμετέχοντες σε σεμινάρια της Human Asset γίνονται ειδικές τιμές.

Στις παροχές του σεμιναρίου, εκτός των παρουσιάσεων,περιλαμβάνονται πλήθος σημειώσεων και ασκήσεων, τεστ προσομοίωσης καθώς και επίδειξη ενός αναγνωρισμένου εργαλείου για Ανάλυση Ρίσκου (Quantitative Analysis). Η υποστήριξη μας δεν ολοκληρώνεται με το πέρας του σεμιναρίου αλλά συνεχίζεται τόσο μέχρι την ημέρα απόκτησης του πτυχίου όσο και μετά, με αποστολή υλικού για την απόκτηση PDUs κ.α.

Η ομάδα έχει αρχίσει να συμπληρώνεται και οι θέσεις είναι περιορισμένες για

καλύτερη ποιότητα του προγράμματος

Περισσότερες πληροφορίες: 

Εδώ διαβάστε τι είπαν παλιότεροι συμμετέχοντες

* PMP, PMI, PMI-RMP and PMBOK Guide are registered trademarks of Project Management Institute, Inc


Plato, Aristotelie and Project Management

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Hello to everyone,

A couple of days ago, I was reading  the magazine “Project Management Journal, June 2016” and there was an interesting article named “The metaphysical questions every project practitioner should ask”.

In the article there is a very insightful connection between opinions of the famous Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotele and principles of Project Management.

I am quoting the specific part of the article below, enjoy:

“Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

What is ultimately a project? To gain insight into this question, we tap into the wisdom of the Allegory of the Cave, written by one of the greatest philosophers of all time, Plato (427–347 BCE) in his famous book, The Republic. Its fictional dialogue between Plato’s teacher Socrates and Plato’s brother Glaucon is well known and full of insights for this article.

Ο Μύθος του Σπηλαίου

For project management, Plato’s allegory teaches us two important things: (1) that there are different ways of seeing or not seeing a project, in other words, the contrast between Metaphysical Worldviews of Being Versus Becoming; and (2) that the project consists of both the physical or material elements and the eternal or immaterial elements that Plato calls “forms” (Solomon & Higgins, 2010), in other words, the contrast of Ancient Materialism Versus Ancient Immaterialism.

Project practitioners may focus on the physical or material elements of the project that are experienced through the senses: inputs such as money, time, and resources; project artifacts such as charter, scope statement, and plan; and outputs such as car, phone, or skyscraper. In so doing, they spend much of their time in the ordinary material world, the world of “shadows,” what Heraclitus (536–470 BCE) calls the world of “becoming” and Bertrand Russell (1912/1997) calls the “world of existence”: “The world of existence is fleeting, vague, without sharp boundaries, without any clear plan or arrangement, but it contains all thoughts and feelings, all the data of sense, and all physical objects, everything that can do either good or harm, everything that makes any difference to the value of life and the world” (p. 100).

Things in this world tend to emerge, change, die, or disappear. That’s the case of inputs that turn into outputs throughout the project. To illustrate this point, we make an analogy between the project plan and hand-drawing a triangle in an attempt to prove a theorem of Euclidian geometry about triangles: Much like one cannot draw a true triangle with straight exact lines and angles, project practitioners cannot mistake the plan for the true project. As Plato contends, the perfect project, if there is one, does not exist anywhere in the material world. Indeed, in such a diachronic world, project practitioners deal only with images of the project, never with the reality that lies behind it.


Project management practitioners may wonder where the “perfect” project exists. Plato would say that it is found in another world that is more real than the material world; it is a world that is pure, eternal, and immaterial, and can only be known through reason, not through experience. Parmenides (539–492BCE) would call it a “being,” permanent, synchronic, and unchanging world. “The world of being is unchangeable, rigid, exact, delightful to the mathematician, the logician, the builder of metaphysical systems, and all who love perfection more than life” (Russell, 1912/1997, p. 100). Which of the two worlds do today’s project practitioners prefer?

According to our temperaments, we shall prefer the contemplation of one or of the other. The one we do not prefer will probably seem to us a pale shadow of the one we prefer, and hardly worthy to be regarded as in any sense real. But the truth is that both have the same claim on our impartial attention, both are real, and both are important to the metaphysician. (Russell, 1912/1997, p. 100)

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave brilliantly and creatively ties together the Greek and pre-Socratic views of both ancient materialism that sees the project as consisting of purely stable, physical, or material elements (e.g., Thales, 624–546 BCE; Democritus, 460–371 BCE), and ancient immaterialism that sees the project as nothing more than numbers, minds, or spirits (e.g., Pythagoras, 571–497 BCE; Parmenides 539–492 BCE; Heraclitus 536–470 BCE). Like Pythagoras, who considers numbers more important than trees and tables, Plato gives primacy to eternal principles. Like Parmenides, Plato purports that things in our day-to-day experience are not truly real (for example, the project plan), and yet like Heraclitus, he appreciates the notion of constant change and its underlying logic, which Plato captures in what he calls “form” (Solomon & Higgins, 2010).

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave also illustrates the difference between what the project appears to be and what the project really is; this is what Russell (1912/1997) sees as “one of the distinctions that cause most trouble in philosophy.” (p. 9) In this context, the more real project (if it is real at all) is not the project plan, nor is it something practitioners can sense. Rather, with experience, project practitioners can construct and shape a project from the elements they can see, including an artifact like the project plan.

Here we have already the beginning of one of the distinctions that cause the most trouble in philosophy—the distinction between “appearance” and “reality”, between what things seem to be and what they are. The painter wants to know what things seem to be, the practical man and the philosopher want to know what they are. (Russell, 1912/1997, p. 9)

Plato’s Universals: Implications for Projects and Project Management

We can take away another lesson from Plato’s “theory of ideas,”1 which contends that particulars such as red roses, pens, and shirts can have things in common—like “redness” (Quine, 1948), or that there is a “chairiness” in the idea of a pure and universal form of a chair (Whitty, 2013). For project management, this suggests that projects can share some characteristic—let’s call it “project-ness” (Quine, 1948). This project-ness includes properties, characteristics, or “predicates” (as philosophers call them), such as having needs, objectives, scope, constraints, deliverables, milestones, budget, time-duration, resources, risks, organization structures, roles and responsibilities for project stakeholders, schedules, and tracking measures. Moreover, “the more real or perfect project” is also a universal, a form.


Because project-ness and the more real project—to name but a few universals—are not particulars, they cannot exist in our day-to-day world (“the world of existence”); “they are things other than particular things, which particular things partake of and have characteristics of” (Russell, 1912/1997, pp. 92–93). The Platonic universals are very influential in project management.

There is much Platonic thinking in the world of project management. Most if not all drawings of project management processes in project management journals and textbooks such as the PMBOK Guide are of universal forms. . . . Perhaps like Plato, we feel that if we identify the universal forms that comprise projects and project management, we will in some way come to know more about the reality of project and project management. (Whitty, 2013, pp. 99–100)

Aristotle: The Everyday Project World Is the Real One

Common-sense thinker Aristotle (384–322 BCE) does not reject the all-important distinction between appearances and reality, but he strongly disagrees with his teacher Plato’s two-worldview and, in a sense, brings Plato down to earth. From the Aristotelian perspective, the everyday project world is the real one and there is no other. He believed that “formal principles or universals that form things into what they are could be found in the substance of the thing itself and not apart from it” (Whitty, 2013, p. 100). Taking this viewpoint, the project plan is just a small part of the project, yet it is the real thing—“the substance or a thing that exists in its own right.”


An early, extremely influential view about reality seen in its most general light is that it consists of things and their properties—individual things, often called particulars, and properties, often called universals that can belong to many such individuals. . . . Very closely allied to this notion of an individual is the concept of substance, that in which properties “inhere.” (van Inwagen & Sullivan, 2015, p. 16)

However, just because we understand that small part does not necessarily mean that we grasp the whole project—“the essence.” Much of project management today is grounded in Aristotelian thinking.

Project management processes and practices (the essential cause of a project) give the project its identifiable “life-cycle” form. So the essence of the project, that is to say those features that make an experience a project, are inextricable from the practices and process that are recognizable as project management. A point to take from this line of reasoning is that we do not apply project management to projects, but rather a body of work is identifiable as a project because project management is applied to it. It is project management, the implementation of particular practices and processes that cause the form of work to be identifiable as a project. (Whitty, 2013, p. 103)

In this light, there are two starting points to explore the question about what a project ultimately is. Project practitioners may espouse Plato’s view that the project is something other than the day-to-day project things, or they may accept Aristotle’s view that the project really is what they can see as a substance of the daily life of it, such as the project plan (Solomon & Higgins, 2010). But do these two post-Socratic metaphysical views tell the whole story?”

Note: “PMI”, “PMP”, and “PMBOK Guide” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.


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Copyright Norman Marks, all rights reserved

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Thomson Reuters Risk Management Solutions provides technologies and solutions that enable firms to manage business risk and drive business value. http://accelus.thomsonreuters.com

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