Change Without Risk?


“Change Without Risk” the slogan read.  This was on a poster advertising the latest Oracle DB release that came shrinkwrapped with the latest copy of Oracle Magazine.  “Change Without Risk”. . . what a laugh.  The very idea is ludicrous. Please, someone put a leash on those marketing guys!

Everything has risk.  Upgrading has risk.  Not upgrading can have even more risk.  Evaluating and managing risk is second nature to those of us in IT.  But, it’s easy to get into a rut and not think deeply about risk until some silly piece of marketing hype comes along.

There are four basic ways to handle risk:


The risks we keep.  Some of these are chosen—for example deciding to go with a backup tape vs. a hot offsite backup.  But most retained risks are not thought through and come as a surprise—particularly to non-technical people.  Unfortunately, a common “suit” strategy seems to be to “save” money by retaining more risk.  In most cases I think the “suits” simply don’t understand the extent and scope of the risks they are working with.


Find a way to reduce risk.  For example: backup the hard drive, provide a backup system, write maintainable code.  Ameliorating risk is usually the most effective way to manage risk.  However, it comes at a cost.  Usually the cost is relatively low, but one that non-technical decision makers may cut if they don’t understand the consequences.  I find when I tell real stores of real failures in similar situations people connect/understand risks a lot better and are more willing to take the necessary steps.


Chose a different solution that avoids risk altogether.  I often code the “hard” parts of my applications first so I can identify the areas of greatest risk when I still have time to re-design and avoid risky solutions.


This is mostly applicable in the insurance world, but I think there are some applications to programming.  For example, I can code a robust data access layer and share it across several servers so that if one server goes down the others can seamlessly pick up the load.


It’s impossible to live life without risk–but with proper precautions risk can be reduced to a point where it’s livable.  And to ya’ll over at Oracle:  Next time you make a poster—please advertise some real benefits–not some “Change Without Risk” hype.  I really would like a poster I can feel good about hanging up beside (or on top of) my Microsoft poster without embarrassment.  🙂


P.s. for those of you patiently waiting the follow up article to my previous post.  I’m working on it and should have it finished in the next few days.

3 Responses to “Change Without Risk?”

  1. mind Says:

    why would you hang up a microsoft poster?

  2. dnim Says:

    > I really would like a poster I can feel good about hanging up beside
    > (or on top of) my Microsoft poster without embarrassment

    Is the Microsoft poster enough embarrassment by itself? 🙂

  3. jeffspost Says:

    I don’t like Microsoft’s business practices anymore than any of the rest of us. (IMO the company should have been broken up.) Society has been pay$ng for that mistake ever since.

    However, there are still a lot of good people and (some) good ideas coming from Microsoft (Including the folks that put together my poster. 🙂 ). I’m supporting them–not the corporate giant. . . OK, call me a hypocrite! That would be fair. 🙂

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