The dress Bow Tie originates from the 17th century. Croatian mercenaries held their shirts together around the neck using tied scarfs during the Prussian war. It then gained favour as a fashion statement by the French (Cravats) and as they say, the rest is history!

In the 21st Century, we are using them to tie risk together. Welcome to the Risk Bow Tie!  Rather than Croatian mercenaries, Risk Bow Ties originated in Australia in the 1970s at a Queensland University. They then gained favour with the Oil and Gas industry and later, the wider Work, Health, and Safety discipline.  They are now becoming the "formal wear of choice" for risk practitioners as they can be worn for any risk occasion.

Why use a Risk Bow Tie

Unlike their dress wear namesake, Risk Bow Ties can be used for a wide range of occasions. 

These include:

  1. Analysing incidents, including root cause analysis, in order to identify what went wrong and as a result, what we can do to fix it.
  2. Supporting risks as part of risk assessment so that they are fully understood.
  3. Supporting a complete picture of risk so that we understand the drivers, the impacts, and the controls.
  4. Helping to identify the risk metrics / key risk indicators that can be used to track the risk.

Basic Principles of a Bow Tie Analysis

The Risk Bow Tie sets out the components of Risk being Causes, Events, Impacts, and Controls from left to right based on the timeline of risk.

Once completed it shows the connections between all of the components with related controls and the specific point to which the control relates. 

Fig 1. Example Risk Bow Tie Analysis

Who should use Risk Bow Ties?

Everyone!  I'm not joking when I say everyone should know how to tie a Risk Bow Tie. My 14 and 16-year-old children know how to do it (It's a great tool to get children to understand Cause and Impact!).  

It is a tool for the Board to help board members understand the key risks that the organisation faces. It is equally as valuable for executive management and all the way to the coal face where detailed analysis is required of incidents that have occurred. The principle that "Everyone is a Risk Manager" means that everyone needs to understand risk and the Bow Tie is a great way to do that.

As I always say at the end of my Risk Bow Tie training "Go Forth and Bow Tie!"

Learn more about the Bow Tie Analysis

Interested in learning more about risk management tools and techniques? Click the banner below to download our eBook on the Bow Tie Analysis as an Effective Risk Management tool.

Bow Tie Risk Tool eBook

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