Reading recommendations on risk management: 4 books to add to your October reading list By: Gordon Graham


This is the tenth in a year-long series where I share my top risk management reading recommendations. These are the books I review regularly regarding the discipline of risk management and related issues. Each of these gives you hints on how to recognize, prioritize and mobilize solutions for the risks you face in your organization.

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I previously shared some tips for making notes and summarizing key points from the books I read, as well as some recommendations for other publications that will help you keep up with trends. Let me know what works for you and then check out my reading suggestions for October:

Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure

By Tim Harford

What a fantastic read, and while not filled with “excitement,” it is packed with real-life stories about individuals and organizations that fail to “adapt” to changing times and circumstances. The mistakes that Johnson and McNamara made in Vietnam cost a lot of American lives and many other problems. The President and the Secretary of Defense had no clue what was really going on in ground and air operations. Fast forward forty-plus years. The mistakes Bush and Rumsfeld and then Obama and his group made in Iraq and Afghanistan caused us some substantial problems – and they are almost identical to the mistakes made in Southeast Asia.

Both administrations failed to have any “feedback” loop with successful ground personnel as to how to win the war and did not listen to the colonels who were closest to what was really going on. Tim Harford explains this better than I can in this quick recommendation, but this book is all about organizations that because of size and decentralization fail to “adapt” to what is really going on. An excellent read all the way around and you will learn a lot about navigation, medicine, profits, losses and many other things in this great work. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century

By George Friedman

What a brilliant work by Mr. Friedman. It is the first book of his that I have read, but I will look for others. Well researched and chock full of data about what we can expect in the next century. And I know how difficult it is to predict the future with any accuracy, but his thinking processes are well laid out and I am confident you will enjoy this work.

The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century

By Thomas Friedman

Mr. Friedman gives a nice overview of where this world is headed in terms of globalization and after you read it you may get some ideas about how you can modify your thinking to maximize your and your agency’s performance in this changing world. This book is really an eye-opener as to how the gap between the United States and other countries has narrowed considerably, including in areas where many thought we would always have a substantial lead.

Managing the Unexpected: Resilient Performance in an Age of Uncertainty

By Karl E. Weick and Kathleen M. Sutcliffe

The 2007 version of this book is a fantastic read on how to create a high-reliability organization (HRO). These two authors have put together a great book on how to turn your organization (private or public sector) into the HRO. A must-read for anyone who is running (or will be running) an organization.

That’s it for this month. Let me know what you think of these books and share your leadership and risk management reading recommendations. Email