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Freud, fishing and risk management. (end analysis).

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.

Step five. Develop and implement treatment strategies. Freudian psychoanalysis reveals the causes of the risks faced and determines treatment strategies. The primal urges of the id blindly shape basic strategies, while the secondary processes of the ego and its focus on reality check the primal urges. The superego (the moral or judicial branch of a personality) keeps a check on the id and ego to develop strategies that are logical and achievable within the boundaries of what is perceived to be right and wrong.

The fisherman analyzes his past experiences of bad risks (failures) and good risks (successes) and develops strategies for how he will plan and execute his act of piscatorial pillage within the boundaries of what is sensible, logical and legal. He then gets in his boat or steps onto the wharf and puts his strategies into action.

Step six. Monitor and communicate risk. The Freudian psychologist monitors a patient's progress and changes treatment strategies if new neuroses arise or current strategies are not working. Follow up visits and sessions monitor continuing mental health. The id, ego and superego all monitor daily functions and adjust strategies accordingly.

The fisherman is the ultimate risk monitor. He is a staunch advocate of continuous improvement through monitoring the successes or failures of his fishing adventures. He fine-tunes his strategies based on what worked and what did not work the last time--the bait, the rig, the tackle, the tides, the moon, the target species.

There is one area of disagreement between the arts, however: communication. Risk managers and Freudian psychologists are in favor of communicating risk and lessons. Fishermen, however, are selective in communicating risk. They will boast of their catch to all and sundry, but be vague about the location of the catch. Is this the fisherman's ego--a defensive mechanism--or is he just managing another risk? Put him on the couch, talk to him about his childhood and find out.

Patrick Doonan is manager of risk and insurance services for Rail Infrastructure Corporation.

Patrick Doonan ("End Analysis," p. 48) is manager of risk and insurance services for Rail Infrastructure Corporation in Sydney Australia. He has worked with the insurance industry since 1981, is a lifelong fisherman and was briefly a student of psychology at Sydney University. He was inspired to write this column during a biteless weekend fishing trip. (pdoonan@ric.nsw
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Title Annotation:risk management analysis and strategies
Comment:Freud, fishing and risk management. (end analysis).(risk management analysis and strategies)
Author:Doonan, Patrick
Publication:Risk Management
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Dec 1, 2001
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