Learning Risk Management from Mother Nature

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI believe that my experiences hiking and camping have provided my best lessons when it comes to learning how to assess, mitigate and manage risk.  Mother Nature also teaches you that sometimes you don’t get "Do Overs".  There are times when you have to do things right the first time.  I live in Utah, and one of my favorite activities is exploring slot canyons.  One excellent slot canyon is called Buckskin Gulch.  It is touted as one of the longest slot canyons in the world at over 21 miles.  I took my son and some friends there a few years back.  You can explore portions of the canyon, making a day hike out of it, or you can spend a couple of days and cover the entire thing.  We went out for the day.

Hiking a slot canyon is all about risk assessment and risk mitigation.  The first thing you will want to consider is the weather.  Slot canyons and rain do not mix.  Temperatures can also vary dramatically.  Walking through the desert to get to the slot canyon might be done in 80 or 90 degree heat (or hotter) while the slot canyon can be 30 degrees colder with pools of icy cold water.  Those little mud puddles can be ankle deep, or over your head.   This makes clothing selection important.  Your terrain can vary from sand to stone to ankle breaking rocks and boulders, so pick your shoes wisely, and remember, they will probably get wet as well.  Cliffs and drop offs are not uncommon, rope and expertise may be required. 

Your physical condition and your ability to travel distances in a variety of conditions will be essential to your safety.  Maps and navigation, getting lost can really ruin your day.  Food, water, medicines, etc – bring everything you will need, and not the things you won’t.  Finally, tell someone where you are going.   The movie 127 Hours tells the real life story of a man, Aron Ralston, who went hiking in the slot canyons of Utah by himself, and became trapped.  In one memorable scene, in an incredulous voice, he says to himself, "You didn’t tell ANYONE where you were going?"  "Nope," he replies, and then he said "OOPS!"  I love slot canyons. They are great fun, but they are very unforgiving and can certainly teach you the need to get things right the first time.  Making your way out of a canyon with a twisted ankle or a broken leg, even for a short distance, is really hard.

As I began this story, I have used Mother Nature to teach myself and my children about risk mitigation and the need to get things right the first time.  Those lessons are brought to work with me each day and I believe are a core value for inContact and its employees. This is reflected in our redundant data centers, network design and fault tolerant applications.   We recognize the need to assess, prepare and execute, and to do it right the first time, because in business, you often don’t get "Do Overs".