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How to Communicate Risk Visually

Communication and consultation is an iterative, two (or more) way process, which applies at all stages of risk management. Miscommunication can also be a source of risk and a barrier to reacting to it

Visual Risk Models For Communication

The following tools can be useful for communicating risk visually:

  • Swiss-Cheese

  • Hierarchy of Controls

  • Ishikawa Diagrams

  • Root Cause Analysis

  • Risk Matrices

  • Bubble Charts

Ishikawa Diagrams

Also called fishbone diagrams, herringbone diagrams, cause-and-effect diagrams, or Fishikawa, Ishikawa are causal diagrams created by Kaoru Ishikawa that show the causes of a specific event or potential event.

Bubble Charts

The following is an example of three risks plotted on an X-Y chart using Likelihood and Consequence. Note that the risks are not indicated as points but rather as regions to indicate the level of uncertainty regarding likelihood and consequence.

For simplicity only estimated probability and financial impacts (rather than reputation, etc.) have been used but the same could apply to any likelihood and consequence measures.

The relative ranking, location, and size however, provides insights as to priorities and whether to focus on likelihood management or consequence management, or both.

In the following example, CyberAttack is certain, however the range of possible costs is unknown. Similarly the cost of loss of capability is relatively low but the likelihood is less clearly understood.

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