Rethinking Risk: How Companies Sabotage Themselves and What They Must Do Differently

By Joseph W. Koletar; Reviewed by Ross Johnson, CPP

***** Rethinking Risk: How Companies Sabotage Themselves and What They Must Do Differently. By Joseph W. Koletar; published by Amacom,; 242 pages; $29.95.

The ambitious title of Rethinking Risk is overly broad to say the least. Its jacket compounds the confusion by invoking the BP oil spill, the Toyota accelerator recall, and Mattel’s problem with lead paint on toys as examples of a “systemic breakdown in the ability to accurately assess risk—and successfully plan to prevent it.”

From the first page, however, the author narrows his focus by listing all the types of risk that the book is not about, leaving just one type remaining by the end of the second page: fraud. It is difficult to see how fraud by corporate employees factored significantly into events like the human, environmental, and economic catastrophe of the Macondo well blowout.

Author Joseph W. Koletar has experience in the U.S. Army and the FBI, and he has worked as a consultant. He quotes many of his peers from other companies and discusses a wide variety of cases that he and others have worked on. Many of these cases are presented as anecdotes and not detailed case studies, however. That’s unfortunate because some of them are interesting and potentially educational. Because of this, Rethinking Risk comes across as being a mile wide and an inch deep.

The most valuable chapter of the book is titled “Why Things Go Wrong.” It is filled with short sections describing the pitfalls that swallow companies and how to spot them. Of lesser value is the chapter called “Frontline Interviews with Risk Management Experts,” composed of short vignettes on a number of people who have influenced the author.

The book is an interesting and quick tour of the fraud universe, and it explains the various organizations and components well. It might be useful to anyone interested in learning more about the pursuit of fraud. If you are looking for a book on managing the risks that can destroy a corporation, however, keep looking.

Reviewer: Ross Johnson, CPP, is senior manager of security for Capital Power Corporation and author of The Sword and the Shield: Antiterrorism Planning for Corporations and Non-Governmental Organizations. He is a member of the ASIS International Oil, Gas, and Chemical Industry Security Council.



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