In 1987, a London Underground ticket seller was alerted to a burning tissue on one of the escalators. They duly put it out, but didn’t report the incident. If they did, the slowly-building inferno under the station might have been discovered in time. Instead, several hours later 31 people were dead and over a 100 injured in the King’s Cross Fire, a notorious blaze that consumed one of the train service’s biggest and deepest stations.
The ticket seller wasn’t lazy or ignorant. Instead, by this stage the bureaucracy of the Underground had created a culture of Chinese firewalls. Everyone knew their place. Health and Safety was not the business of the ticket office. Subsequent investigations found that this problem occurred consistently across the Underground’s bureaucracy, even at the highest levels. A fire quite literally burned under the floors, but the company’s culture made people blind to seeing it.
Why culture matters
Culture is a collection of habits. People who share a culture have similar ways of doing things. For example, driving on the left side of the road is a culture. People who don’t do that seem weird and can even be a danger. Company cultures are no different: they represent the collective habits of the employees, reinforced by the vision of leadership. This is why, when leadership and reality are not aligned, staff become disenchanted.
What does this have to do with risk? According to Deloitte, an organisation’s culture determines how it manages risk when under stress. For some companies, their risk culture can be a liability. For others, it can provide both stability and a competitive advantage.
Risk is a goldilocks force: you don’t want too much or too little, the latter meaning less reward. But many companies don’t look at risk as a strategic ingredient – they simply avoid it as much as possible. It becomes a sideshow, one that shouldn’t include the employees.
Yet risk is all about intelligence, and who better to be the eyes and ears of the company than its people? They interact with customers, suppliers, processes and inventory every day. They can feed insight into risk measurements, which risk managers then present to the leadership.
It stands to reason that a good risk awareness culture is incredibly valuable to a business. Deloitte lists the following as crucial to risk culture:
● Commonality of purpose, values and ethics,
● Universal adoption and application of risk,
● Learning from risk, and
● Timely, transparent and honest communications
Giving staff the right tools
How can that be accomplished? The answer lies in the tools that employees use. Risk should have a functional value to the employees. This can be done using data culture and risk integration platforms. By deploying a cloud-based risk capturing system, you can reach across the silos that employees and departments use to secure themselves. It can also be scaled conveniently to adapt as the company does. This helps create a proactive-risk culture.
You can already see the tangible impact of cloud platforms by their sheer dominance: few major companies still do without a service such as Salesforce or its peers. These technologies are transformational, so it stands to reason you should tap them to transform risk culture. This is what we’re doing with Riskonnect.
Such a platform extends the flow of data to beyond the business silos, enabling risk professionals, managers and the exco to have a single truth and up-to-date view of the company’s risk profile. It also encourages employees to wield data for their own insights and creates a sense of risk as a strategic tool, not a curse.
An errant match caused the biggest fire in the London Underground’s history. But the real shock was how silos created a risk-averse culture that cost lives. Since then the London Underground has improved remarkably: today its main risks are not fire, but effective modernisation. London’s transport risk culture now tackles new problems such as commuter stagnation and pollution from vehicles. That is a big step up from ignoring the embers of an underground inferno.
Don’t wait for a fire to show you the strategic potential of risk. Invest a little today and start growing that culture that will ensure the business’ future.
* Riaan Bekker, Riskonnect Solutions Manager, thrive
The myths of microwaves
We all know microwaves make cooking a breeze and it helps save those minutes, we rarely have enough of these days. However, some people do have those lingering doubts about whether microwaving food destroys nutrients or that it emits harmful radiation. However, the truth is a lot more comforting and positive.
“The microwave makes life so much easier,” says Tracy Gordon, Head of Product – Home Appliances at Samsung South Africa. “It’s human-centred technology at its most helpful. The Samsung Hotblast for example, has revolutionary functions, which are tailor-made to create fast, tasty and healthy meals in minutes.”
A recent article by Harvard Health Publishingclaims stated that “microwave ovens cook food using waves of energy that are remarkably selective, primarily affecting water and other molecules that are electrically asymmetrical. Microwaves cause these molecules to vibrate and quickly build up thermal (heat) energy.” The article debunks two common myths about microwaving food.
Myth 1: Microwaving kills nutrients
Whether in a microwave or a regular oven, some nutrients, including vitamin C, do break down when exposed to heat. However, the fact is, cooking with a microwave might be better when it comes to preserving nutrients because it takes a shorter time to cook. Additionally, as far as vegetables go, cooking them in water robs them of some of their nutritional value because the nutrients seep out into the cooking water,” states the report by Harvard Health Publishing. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), food cooked in a microwave oven is as safe and has the same nutrient value, as food cooked in a conventional oven.
Myth 2: Microwaving food can give you cancer
The American Cancer Society (ACS) says that microwaves do not make food radioactive. Microwaves heat food but they do not change the chemical or molecular structure of it. In fact, there is absolutely no evidence that microwaves pose a health risk to people when used appropriately, the organisation added.
With those myths well busted, it’s comforting to know one can make full use of the convenient kitchen appliance. And when the time comes to use a microwave to heat up a tasty meal in no time, one can trust the Samsung Hotblast to do the job. The HotBlast has multiple air holes blowing out powerful hot air, which reduces cooking time. Samsung claims the Slim Fry technology ensures that food is perfectly crisp on the outside and delicious and juicy on the inside. Additionally, this versatile microwave has a wider grill, making it easier to brown food fast and evenly. The turntable is wider, measuring 345mm, making it possible to prepare bigger portions of food. And with its Eco Mode power, it significantly reduces energy consumption with its low standby power. Its intelligent features and stylish design makes it very useful and as we now know – a safe, healthy way to enjoy a meal.
New BMW 3-series ushers in autonomous future
The new BMW 3-series is not meant to be an autonomous car, but it is so close, ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK discovers.
It was not meant to be a test-drive of an autonomous vehicle. But the Driving Assist button on the steering wheel of the new BMW 330i was just too tempting. And there I found myself, on Sir Lowry’s Pass near Cape Town, “driving” with my arms folded while the vehicle negotiated curves on its own.
Every 10 seconds or so, yellow or red lights flashed to alert me to put my hands back on the wheel. The yellow lights meant the car wanted me to put my hands on the wheel, just to show that I was in control. The red lights meant that I had to take over control from the artificial intelligence built into the vehicle.
With co-driver Ernest Page, we negotiated a major highway, the bends of Sir Lowry’s pass, and the passes of Hell’s Heights (Hel se Hoogte) above the Cape Winelands.
As the above video of the experience reveals, it can be nerve-racking for someone who hasn’t experienced autonomous driving, or hasn’t been dreaming of testing it for many years. For this driver, it was exhilarating. Not because the car performed so magnificently, but because it tells us just how close true autonomous driving really is.
There was one nervous moment when the autonomous – or rather, Driving Assist – mode disengaged on Hell’s Heights, but fear not. A powerful sense of responsibility prevailed, and my hands hovered over the steering wheel as it took the curve. Assist disengaged, and the car began to veer towards the other side of the road. I quickly took over, and also sobered up from the giddiness of thinking I was already in the future.
In reality, Driving Assist is part of level 2 of driving autonomy, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers. A presentation on the evening of the test drive, by Edward Makwana, manager of group product communications at BMW Group in South Africa, summed up the five stages as the driver having Feet Off, Hands Off, Eyes Off, Mind off, and finally, only being a Passenger.
However, the extent to which the hands-off mode of Driving Assist mimics self-driving, and easily shows the way to eyes-off and mind-off, is astonishing.
Click here to read about the components that make the Driving Assist work.