Thanks to the global financial meltdown, we now know what a "black swan" is. But do we know from which direction the next one will swim into view, and what to do when it does?
Black swans are, of course, those highly improbable but painfully consequential events that strike from the blue - or from the streets of Cairo, or from an offshore oil rig, or from a poorly designed car part. They can destroy a company's reputation, cripple its financial performance, and perhaps even kill it outright. Because they are rare and almost impossible to predict, black-swan events tend to fall outside the scope of most companies' risk-management programs (assuming a company has such a program at all).
But hope springs eternal for the proponents of enterprise risk management (ERM), a 10-year-old integrated approach to managing a broad spectrum of risks. A recent spate of black-swan events, combined with an equally long list of regulatory imperatives, will now, they say, spur widespread uptake of ERM.
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