How to Establish a Strong Risk Culture

Cars have seat belts and airbags for a reason: they’re there to protect us. And so are speed limits. Until Google perfects the self-driving car, accidents will continue to happen, but these safeguards reduce the risk of serious injuries and fatalities. But what about our financial system, which impacts the fate of the entire world? Where were its safeguards back in 2005, 2006 when it seemed like the good times could never end?  


Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sat down with Big Think to share the lessons he learned stemming the panic of 2008. As painful as things have been, they could have been a lot worse, he explains in his book Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises. Geithner and a team of other unlucky financial experts worked around the clock as Wall Street was finally brought down by its own hubris. No one had prepared for the good times to end. Is your company being run the same way?

In this exclusive workshop for Big Think Edge, Geithner shares his insights into how companies can avoid being blinded by overconfidence. He breaks down how to build a strong risk culture. And it begins with humility—a sign of strength in the post-panic world.

“The right way to deal with that uncertainty is to build in a greater cushion against the risk of the bad event,” he told Big Think. “It’s just a way of thinking about trying to build into the culture of decision-making a greater sense of humility about what you can’t know and a greater sense of caution about the uncertain future, to look at, yeah, maybe the low probability event but the event that can be existential in its cost.”

To learn how to apply Geithner’s insights into managing risk, subscribe to Big Think Edge to take his workshop. A free 14-day trial will give you access to online lectures from leading experts sharing their personal case studies and strategies.

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