The 30 Second Rule

Does anyone in the Risk field enjoy churning out huge risk reports, running to many (dozens, hundreds) of pages, so convoluted that much of it goes straight to the shredders? Me neither. I’d rather lick wasps.

Happens a lot though. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen a report so ram-packed full of 8-point information it’s almost impossible to work out what the hell it’s saying.

And yet, this is the key element of the whole risk cycle, the bit where the risk community gets air time at the Palace, the ‘value-add’.

So, my proposal: the 30 Second Rule. It’s simple: your report is a success if a non-technical reader can understand the key issue, its magnitude and what should be, or is being, done about it, within 30 seconds of picking up the paper. If the reader is still in the dark on the 31st second, the report fails.

That’s all we have to do to avoid licking wasps.  






Some people I know are very excited about all this blogging, Facebooking, txting, Twittering, online forums – this explosion of everyday media. Some people think it has lead to increased democracy. 

Call me an old grumper, but I’m just not so sure that, for the majority, media changes have actually delivered anything more meaningful than a handy shopping experience, some maps and a few naughty pictures. 

The means of delivery has changed, certainly. In the past if you wanted to get on your soapbox you had to, well, get a soapbox. And get on it. And shout. Or write to the papers.

Today we have more channels – alternatives to soapboxes – and the means to broadcast without actually straining your throat. 

So, more noise. Any more signal? And, if there is, any positive impact on democracy?

Weeeeell….possibly not. Two graphs. The first shows the sharp increase in net usage we all know and love, the second suggests no change in the democratic landscape over a similar period (all UK data).



 Source: Democracy Barometer.

Conclusion: lots more noise – less signal.