John Salter’s Blog

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  • Poor risk communication leads to foreseeable outcomes

    It was Monty Python who introduced me as a child to the black humour of the “bleeding obvious”.

    It is the government of South Australia which is playing out a Covid example.

    One of those principles is the “three point sermon” – Certainly not more than 9!
    There are well known principles around communicating risk

    So thirty scenarios is confusion – not clarity.

    Worse – it generates civil disobedience.

    The kicker is that everywhere else this had been tried – people just pretend to register. Sorry, my phone must have malfunctioned.
  • Significant Hazards

    Who had pandemic in their significant hazard list in October 2019?

  • The biro and pencil – urban myth 101 but also a useful story
    Travel lite – always ask – what is the minimum necessary to achieve the result

    One of my favourite scenes from the movie ‘Saving Private Ryan’ illustrates the importance of the “minimum necessary” principle. It also reminds me of the story about America spending big on biro development while Russia achieved the same outcomes using a pencil 😂. Myth. But a good joke – which unfortunately became internet mischief.

    … and yes, mine arrived yesterday 😂

    I use it as a prop to tell stories.

  • AgileBCP – favorite feature number 5 – a comprehensive and integrated workflow.

    AgileBCP is a tool which supports all nine elements of this comprehensive and integrated workflow.

  • AgileBCP – favorite feature number 4 – comprehensive, incisive information about critical resources.

    AgileBCP uses a ‘5 P’ heuristic with 3 questions informing each P.

    Yes, that’s fifteen questions 😂

  • AgileBCP – favorite feature number 3 – a structure focused on purpose.
    The AgileBCP database maps what is needed to achieve required objectives.

    Yes, it’s as simple as that 😂

  • AgileBCP – favorite feature number 2 – using ‘risk’ as a lens into future uncertainties
    In the real world, there are no silver bullets (magic, single-dose solutions)
    AgileBCP is a great tool – but it is not a ‘silver bullet’

    We recognize that risk is a concept.

    It is a useful concept as it helps us get a better handle on future uncertainties.

    The AgileBCP risk lens can (and should) be applied BEFORE a disruption event – and AFTER a disruption event.

    Before event risk is a function of resource criticality and vulnerability (to impact)
    After event risk is a function of resource criticality (which should be validated) and impact (on operability).

    Nature’s warning color – red – is used to stimulate discussion. A ‘red flag’ calls for serious and immediate considerations. Orange – important but probably not immediate, Yellow – cautionary and needing to be watched closely, Green – sound but still keep an eye on it.

    Color coding drives the conversation.

    Risk puts on notice the need for conversations about what ought to be done – and what does not need to be done. Indeed the only reason for risk assessment is in order to inform action – or inaction. Risk assessment has no inherent merit. It ought not to be academic. Risk exists, as a concept, in order to inform decisions.

    Once a decision is made, any implementation plan(s) should be kept as long as necessary but as short as possible. Specifying what needs to be done and what is needed to do it. Implementation plans are then supported by standard management practices of monitoring the achievement of the required outcomes by ensuring the plans are on track, on budget, and on time.

  • AgileBCP – favourite feature number 1 – risk criteria

    As we enter our finalising stages of our User Acceptance Testing (UAT) for the AgileBCP software platform, it’s time to let the cat out of the bag on some key features.

    First, for the things you care about, our Business Continuity algorithm focuses on criticality (to operability) and vulnerability (to impact).

    Central to our thinking is the appreciation that criteria based considerations provide a robust stimulation to good decision making.

    An added feature is the capability to tailor the criteria to align with your values.

  • Improving governance – a note to CEOs

    Today I made my “YourOughtWe decision-making app” available.

    I think it is a useful tool to support better decisions.

    It addresses several of the key needs being voiced across our community.

    People in South Australia are not alone in calling for better decision-making
    (Ref Advertiser, Oct 2021)
    National agendas are focused on the need for better decision making
    State agendas recognize the value of better decision making

    If you want your “governance people” to look at my offer please share this note and direct them to YourOghtWe description and YourOughtWe example

  • Comes with a caution …

    I was sitting quietly in the corner at the party – enjoying watching people catch up with each other.

    He quietly came over and sat down next to me.

    “G’day mate, what you been up to?” said the friend of long-standing who I had not seen for many years.

    So I gave him the short version of transferring my thinking into software – such as the OughtWe Decision Maker.

    He paused, reflected, smiled ruefully and said two things.

    – “how many consulting gigs have you done where the situation is appreciated in the first briefing?“

    – “given what you know about how the world works, how the hell do you think this app – which has embedded elements of transparency, rigour, and accountability – is going to sell?”

    Hmmm … good point.

    So be warned

    We all have difficult decisions in life.

    I still think it’s worth basing them on facts, assessing the available information, and reviewing options with rigour.

    Therefore I offer you the OughtWe Decision Maker for your consideration.

    It might be one of your best “one dollar buys”.

Hindsight and Foresight

I’m sure there are quite a few old sayings about “hindsight always being useful to learn from – but foresight being better to not have to“. Sage.

I was reminded of the value of foresight in a recent conversation on LinkedIn. Reflecting on the essence of the conversation – supporting good decisions with foresight – I noted several key principles – a list I share below as “Five for Foresight”.

  1. Be clear about your objectives
  2. Fully appreciate your context
  3. Be specific about your assumptions (and uncertainties)
  4. Be rigorous about your decision criteria (and their weightings)
  5. Plan to include the active monitoring of variations
I’d like to think my new OghtWe decision app frees you up for foresight
Watch here if unable to watch on YouTube.
Limited Time Offer – OughtWe decision app for just US$3.25

OughtWe decision app – illustrated with a pinch of fun, and a small example

Introducing the OughtWe decision app
To illustrate the key processes, this blog uses only three criteria (head, heart, gut). OughtWe – as an Expert System – uses a set of default criteria developed across the disaster management sector over decades.
Establishing context – naming and describing the decision to be made, identifying options and their rationales, generating decision criteria and attributing weightings to them, applying the decision criteria to evaluate each option, and taking the preferred option into a plan.
Tweak for Context
Attributing weightings to Head, Heart, and Gut decision criteria
Evaluating – recording the associated rationales
Display the evaluation to stimulate conversations
Structure your plan to be as simple as possible
Planning is about monitoring and refinement
Communicate throughout by screen shares and tailored reports

OughtWe decision app – an Expert System

OughtWe operates as an expert system
OughtWe taps into disaster management decision making
because disaster management is about crucial decisions.

When making a decision, what things are important considerations?
Given all considerations are not equally important,
what weighting do you attribute to each criterion.

All criteria are full editable – from delete them, to neutralising them (by setting their weighting to zero, to adding new criteria.

Weightings should be adjusted to reflect your context and your values.

Oughtwe encourages iterative planning –
by sharing screenshots or tailored PDFs
The structures and processes in OughtWe use documents in order to achieve results.

As an element of incorporating user feedback into the Expert System approach we encourage all OughtWe users to provide reviews within the app.

A few quick thankyous …

A “shout out” and thanks to the generosity of many friends – who know who they are and prefer to remain unnamed.

Your thoughtful feedback on the OughtWe decision app has seen several significant results.

Improvements in ease of use (with more “tips and buttons”) for functionality and navigation;

Example – the kickstart tip!

Some good suggestions to incorporate in the “how to” page on my website. I’ll have a crack at that later this week.

Suggestions for a couple of associated Gigs – a customised version for organisations (to support nimbleness, consistency, assurance, quality etc – you know the drill). You can see the promo page or go to for the approach;

A training workshop offering (but I’m not yet convinced of the need for this); and

Last but not least, to my coder who tweaked the refinements to get version 1.2 up and available on the Apple Store and Google Play today! He needs no link because he is fully booked out until the end of the year – but yes, Asjad is that good!

Appreciate the situation.

It’s a golden oldie but the caution to avoid “situating the appreciation” was nicely summarised by Alastair Grant in 2010.

“There is a glitch with this process, and it’s called ‘Situating the Appreciation’. It goes like this: You start with a blank sheet of paper and full of good intentions apply logic objectively and without bias. Or that’s what you think. But as an expert you already know a great deal and it is hard to prevent your knowledge from weakening your impartiality.

So what happens is that deep down you think you already know the solution to the problem and the outcome that you desire. And without realising this you magnify the arguments that support your predicted or desired outcome, and the objections that logic throws up are painted into a corner and have reduced importance and visibility. I suspect that this happens often in business life and can be found to be the reason behind many fiascos.“

I reckon that fundamental caution was one of the things that contributed to the idea of setting up OughtWe – the decision support tool.

OughtWe – a guide

Download a PDF of the general guide here
The HOME icon – The REPORT icon – The GUIDE icon – The SEND a SCREENSHOT icon – are all important tools for the planning process – not just for app navigation

Establish Context Create a decision
Take time over “establishing context” with others who have an interest in your decision.
Asking the right questions sets up the right answers.
Clarify your objective, goal or aim
– then explore all options to get there
TIP – The default Criteria are shown above – The app allows you to change these. (Add, Delete)
TIP – A lazy way to not include a criterion in graphs and reports is to set the weighting for it to zero
A light example of how flexible the app is to support your context. All defaults deleted – these three added.
Deciding “should I say or should I go” with my Head, my Heart, and my Gut

Evaluate Options
Apply weighted criteria
Using the microphone – or are you “still typing”?
“Question to the void” – press home why the gap between some points is like it is – share the screenshot
Implement Plans
Action preferred options
We only evaluate things in order to better do something about them.
Your action plan should be focused, minimalist.
Yes, as simple as possible – as complex as necessary
The importance of monitoring and refinement is significant.
Good planning is an ongoing process
Filter the fields – deselect – tailor your PDF outputs
Once you have tailored your field selection, click on the floating PDF button
Save it by default – or direct the download

The OughtWe Twitter site


Ought we use “lite (tongue-in-cheek) ads”?

Is it a bit of fun? Or is it just a trite distraction?

Does it stimulate interest and thinking?

Does it enhance accessibliity?

Or is it a demeaning?

Check the Apple Store here

Establishing Context

Never underestimate the importance of establishing context.

Of agreed objectives, potential options, and weighting agreed assessment criteria.

In short, of having your ladder against the right wall.

Assessing Options

Applying the agreed criteria to potential options is a collaborative process where the rationale for attributions is significant.

In short, asking the right questions.

Implementing Plans

This is not academic. This is not a game.

We assess risks in order to manage them. We assess options in order to work out the best ones to act on.

In short, we think right in order to act right.


An app to support your decision-making.

In the palm of your hand.