31 December 2010

Denial: Resolution for a New Year...

On the eve of the New Year, 2011 approaches with new perspectives and new found learning on the risks before us. Operational Risk is about managing "All Hazards" and "All Crimes" whether you are working within the ranks of the largest global 500 organization, or managing self as J. Q. Citizen. OPS Risk is just not about a government or corporate perspective any longer and is becoming more personal for many professionals in their daily lives. Managing their families, their households and the risks associated with spouses, parents, siblings and even those who you don't even know. But they know you.

In Dr. Jessica Stern's latest book "Denial: A Memoir of Terror" you will find that her story is very much about your own personal operational risk management. It will transport you into thoughts about all of the ways that people can learn about you and your personal life through good old fashioned surveillance or today on Facebook or Twitter. Yet this isn't about this new age phenomenon of digital stalkers or voyeurs. This story is about "Denial" and the risk of denial in the context of observation or your own behavior and the others who surround you.

"Denial is almost irresistibly seductive, not only for victims who seek to forget the traumatic event but also for those who observe the pain of others and find it easier to ignore or "forget." In the long run, denial corrodes integrity--both of individuals and of society. We impose a terrible cost on the psychically wounded by colluding in their denial."
In this skillfully wrought, powerful study, a terrorism expert, national security adviser (The Ultimate Terrorists), and lecturer at Harvard, returns to a definitive episode of terror in her own early life and traces its grim, damaging ramifications. Having grown up in Concord, Mass., in 1973, Stern, then 15, and her sister, a year younger, were forcibly raped at gunpoint by an unknown intruder; when the police reopened the case in 2006, Stern was compelled to confront the devastating experience. The police initially tied the case to a local serial rapist, who served 18 years in prison before hanging himself. Stern's painful journey takes her back to the traumatic aftershocks of the rape, when she began to affect a stern, hard veneer not unlike the stiff-upper-lip approach to survival her own German-born Jewish father had assumed after his childhood years living through Nazi persecution. Covering up her deep-seated sense of shame with entrenched silence, Stern had a classic post-traumatic stress disorder—which she was only able to recognize after her own work interviewing terrorists. Stern's work is a strong, clear-eyed, elucidating study of the profound reverberations of trauma.

Dr. Stern brought to light in her process of interviewing people, that "Denial" can be a true "Operational Risk" in itself. How many times have you observed someone's behavior and thought to yourself, that doesn't feel right. How many times have you said to yourself, this behavior is not good for my own well-being? This self-talk is something that all of us need to pay more attention to, as we embark on this New Year and the next decade of the 21st century.

What behavior have you witnessed lately that you are in denial about? Make a New Year's eve wish, pledge or resolution that this has to end. What ever the behavior that has occurred or will soon occur, the risks are too great to remain in denial. The trauma that exists in your mind or the potential impact that a future trauma may have, can be managed from a risk management point of view. What is the likelihood and the impact to you, your organization or your friends and family?

As we all watch the ball drop tonight at 12:00 midnight in the USA in Times Square New York City, reflect on the 2010 risks that you took by continuing to be in denial. Think about all of those people you encounter everyday at work, in the local grocery store and even in your own neighborhood. Open your eyes and your mind to the behaviors that just don't seem right. Manage your risk exposure when it comes to the people you associate with and the people who are watching you, without your knowledge.

The contributor(s) to this Operational Risk Management blog wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

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