Transform your risk data into an easy to understand visual risk picture
Understand and communicate complex risk scenarios with the bowtie method.
Understand and communicate complex risk scenarios
If you’ve ever created risk assessments in Excel and then tried to explain them to your ‘non-risk-related’ colleagues, you know you’ve set yourself up for a challenge. Although Excel can be convenient to create a risk register that lists your risks, threats, consequences, barriers and such, it’s hard to see the bigger picture of how these elements relate to one another, and how you’re reducing risk.
A picture says more than a thousand words
Bowtie is a diagram that visualizes the risk you’re dealing with in just one, easy to understand picture. The diagram is shaped like a bow-tie, creating a clear differentiation between proactive and reactive risk management. The power of bowtie is that it shows you a summary of scenarios in a single picture. It provides a simple, visual explanation of risk that would be much more difficult to explain otherwise.
How does it work?
Risk registers – the traditional way
Can you answer the following questions based on the image on the left?
- Which of the barriers are preventive (proactive)?
- Which of the barriers are reactive (recovery and mitigating)?
- Do you have enough barriers to prevent events from happening and are they effective?
- What if the engineering manager is fatigued?
Risk registers – the bowtie way
Have a look at the image on the right and answer the questions again. What becomes clear in this picture?
- Are there enough proactive barriers?
- Is every threat or consequence covered by multiple barriers?
- What is the effectiveness of these barriers (color of the barrier)?
- What if the Engineering Manager is fatigued?
Convert your risk register into a visual risk picture
Most companies already have a risk register in place, often in Excel sheets. Converting that information into bowtie diagrams helps to understand dependencies between barriers and to spot weaknesses in lines of defense.