Monday, June 05, 2006

Isambard Kingdom Brunel

We have just returned from a week's holiday in Bristol. Given that it is 200 years since Brunel was born and his strong links with the city, there was a lot about him in the various museums we visited and at the SS Great Britain (the first large iron hulled steam powered ship).

An interesting point made about Brunel was that he was not always successful. This demonstrated he was willing to take risks and usually learnt from his mistakes. It is suggested that this is how he was able to push technology so far.

I am concerned that we are tending to become more risk averse, but when we finally decide to do something we expect to it to be successful and rarely look back to see if we made mistakes that we can learn from. Some of Brunel's failures cost people's lives and caused companies to go bankrupt, but surely we should know enough about risk management now to take calculated risks and know the warning signs that mean we stop an endeavour before actual harm is experienced.

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