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Risk-based Thinking – Quieting our Lizard Brain

Updated: Aug 9

Risk-based Thinking – Quieting our Lizard Brain
Risk-based Thinking – Quieting our Lizard Brain

Identifying risks and reacting to problems when they occur uses our "Lizard Brain" which is fast and needed for a fight and flight response to survive in the present and short term.

However, looking for opportunities, and being proactive to prevent problems and ensure goals are achieved requires use of the slower part of our brain which is focused on "thinking", with the ability to choose, design, create, and anticipate so we can survive the longer term.

To succeed in the long term we must slow down and quiet our "lizard brain" long enough so that we can put in place what is needed to ensure mission success. However, slowing down is not easy and that is one of the reasons why risk-based thinking is hard to do. As companies try to go faster and faster we seldom take the time needed for our brains to think.

The following steps help to make sure that we use our whole brain when contending with uncertainties:

  1. Separate risk identification (fast brain) from risk analysis and assessment (slow brain)

  2. Beware of cognitive biases such as: optimism, confirmation, anchoring, ostrich effect, zero-risk etc.

  3. Consider both threats (fast brain) and opportunities (slow brain)

  4. Don't rush - create time to engage the slow part of your brain

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