Risk Management In Times of Uncertainty


You may remember hearing about the successful landing of US Air Flight 1549 in the Hudson River on January 15, 2009. Thankfully everyone walked away from the “miracle on the Hudson”.

Risk on Miracle on the Hudson

Despite the passage of time this event provides a valuable lesson in risk management that is important today as we deal with the COVID -19 pandemic.  In our rush to respond to the crisis, we cannot forget the basics. 

Effective risk management demands that we keep our objectives front and centre while identifying and assessing the risks and determining action that will helps us achieve our goal.

In responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever it is important to not lose sight of our objectives and the priority of those objectives. 

Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and his co pilot Jeffrey Skiles never lost sight of their objective to preserve as many lives as possible while assessing the risks and determining a course of action; all in the space of about 3 minutes.

The plane took off at 3:24 and Captain Sully called out “birds” at 3:27. At 3:30 the plane landed on the Hudson and at 3:32 everyone was out of the plane.

From the time the pilot called out “birds” to landing on the Hudson, Captain Sully and his crew had to decide if they could get back to LaGuardia. Returning to LaGuardia would have meant crossing over the city of Manhattan and putting people on the ground at risk. If the plane crashed with full fuel tanks the plane and everything around it would be incinerated. Another option was to try and make it to the Teterboro Airport that was closer but still required flying over a populated area. Lastly, should the crew try to land on the Hudson? Of course we know the plane successfully landed on the Hudson and everyone survived.

This is what risk management is all about. On your way to your destination, a number of obstacles can get in the way and you need to respond in order to get back on track so that you ultimately reach your destination.

The changing impact of COVID 19 is exerting time constraints and demanding that we continually re assess our options and make decisions. We need to quickly identify and assess the risks, despite not having all the information we would like, and decide very quickly the best path forward to ensure that we ultimately reach our destination. Using the Objective Centric Risk Management approach keeps objectives front and centre.

If you haven’t tried this approach maybe the time is now.  In these uncertain times when everything we’ve known has turned upside down and we are seeking better ways to achieve our goals, perhaps now is the time to embrace the Objective Centric Risk Management approach.

The best source for Objective Centric Risk Management is Tim Leech. His site is Risk Oversight

During these uncertain times we are all stronger together as a community. If you have any questions, comments or insights to share, feel free to email me to abyrnecma at

Categories : Risk Management

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