It is quite frustrating in Risk Management when you come across businesses where nobody thinks there is a need to review their risks or how they are managed because there are already lots of controls in place.

There is a very old story, I think it is one of Aesop’s Fables, which illustrates my thinking on this, which shows that very little is really new, at least not in Management.

There was a fox who became friends with a cat.  Yes, I know, just bear with me, this is a fable, it makes a point. It is not a Natural History lesson.  Well, one day the fox and the cat were walking together, chatting about… whatever foxes and cats chat about..and suddenly heard a noise in the distance.  The cat said, “That sound like hounds.  I think we had better start running or we’ll be in big trouble!”

“Oh, don’t worry!” said the fox. “I know a hundred tricks for escaping from hounds. Just stick with me!”

The cat said, “I only know one!” So he thought he had better keep close to the fox.

In due course, or possibly sooner, the hounds arrived and started to chase the two friends.  There were some trees nearby and the fox ran in and out among the trees in a hundred different patterns, but the hounds just kept on the scent until in the end they caught him.  Meanwhile the cat had climbed the first tree he came to and stayed there until the hounds had given up, once they realised they could not climb trees.

What controls do you have in your business?  Have you tested them?  Do they really work? 

As Aesop (or whoever) said at the end of the fable:

“One trick that works is worth more than a hundred that don’t!”