Risk communication is inherently wrapped up with risk perception, and then with a basic lack of understanding of uncertainty and probability.
Yet – as web analytics practitioners and marketing scientists, we have to communicate risk all the time. What are the chances of this A/B test completely failing? What are the chances that we’re going to make a profit on this? What are the chances of losing the entire company if this strategy doesn’t go well? Typically, these questions are rooted around ‘chance’ or ‘odds’.
Experts in health, safety, and policy have problems with risk communication too. What’s the real threat of Mad Cow to the population. What about a terror attack? What about the odds of your plane’s engine failing? How do you communicate risk to the public, to a manager, or to a client?
It’s a genuine problem.
It’s an important skill to work on. It’s not really about avoiding blame for when things go wrong. It’s really about informing decision makers and/or stakeholders in such a manner that they’re actually informed.
To this end, risk perception, risk management, and risk communication are all linked.