A short segway into how poor we are at assessing risk, a topic that I find fascinating in itself. The table below shows how much saving one life-year of human life costs using various means .
|Intervention||Cost per life-year saved [MSEK]|
|Reduction of radon in new houses||0.1|
|Improvement of nuclear power plants||64.0|
|Air-bags in new cars||31.4|
|Traffic lights in 4-way crossings in cities||241.3|
|Minimum age for buying tobacco||0.1|
|Battery powered fire alarms in homes||~0.0|
|Reduction of electro-magnetic fields near powerlines (in Bergshamra, Sweden)||932.0|
A lot can be said about the reasons for the huge variation apparent in the table. Suffices here to say that, whatever the reasons, they probably apply to the assessment of other types or risks too, including business risks.
Guessing about the future (risk) is admittedly hard but there are methods that make our guess-work at least a little bit more structured and makes us aware of of the weaknesses in our assessments. For more on risk assessment, see .
I will also in later posts try elaborate on the kind of risk assessment that I recommend to be done at each gate of the Stage-Gate model (see the previous post). It is not easy either but some risk assessment is better than none.
 The Cost-Effectiveness of Lifesaving Interventions in Sweden. A. L. Joakim, J. Ramsberg and Lennart Sjöberg. Center for Risk Research, Stockholm School of Economics. Sweden
 Risk assessment on Wikipedia