Riblet#50: Is this duckweed I see before me?

At a UK parliamentary committee in 2008, Roger Ford, a journalist and railway enthusiast, explained that further electrification of the railways was put off because it was believed that trains would soon be powered by fuel cells using hydrogen produced from bionic duckweed. So duckweed has come to mean any excuse for procrastination that cites some vague future development which will, of course, solve everything, although if it does, it is probably decades away.


In 2017 voters in Nashville, Tennessee, were persuaded not to back a mass transit system for the city because self-driving cars would do away with the need for it, they were just around the corner, and they were already operating in certain unspecified places where they had definitely been seen by the politicians who made that case. Duckweed.


Another prime and pressing example: the Northern Ireland Brexit border issue will be fixed through technology that already exists…somewhere.  Duckweed.


Risk registers around the world are awash with actions that never happen – maybe phase 2 of an IT system will fix them; maybe expected changes in the market or the government or regulation will make them unnecessary; maybe they could be bundled with other changes which will be required shortly and can be addressed then.  Whatever.  It is useful to understand where inaction is down to nothing more than clogging duckweed, and what the consequence is for the potential impact and likelihood of a risk.


Data Source:The Financial Times magazine


Please note: Riblets are taking a pause; they have been produced off and on for the last five years – those from the last year or so can be found at this site (www.ceres-risk.com/blog) with the earlier series at www.fire-rooster.com.  A selection of even earlier ones can be found in the book Risk Management in Fifty Anecdotes by Duncan Stephenson which is available on Amazon.

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