A Grand Unified Theory for Risk


Risk Doctor Briefing

Dr David Hillson PMI Fellow, HonFAPM, FIRM

The Risk Doctor Partnership



Albert Einstein tried for decades to develop a single “Theory Of Everything”, but he failed. Since then physicists have looked for a Grand Unified Theory to unify the various fundamental forces (weak, strong, electromagnetic and gravitational) and offer a more elegant understanding of the organisation of the universe and the nature of matter, energy, space and time. The drive towards a Grand Unified Theory is rooted in the conviction that everything in the universe is interconnected and interdependent, and that it must therefore be possible to describe this mathematically.

Is it possible to develop a “Risk Grand Unified Theory”? Is there a single underlying “Theory Of Everything” for risk? Perhaps enterprise risk management (ERM) is the answer.

There are many types of risk management, each with its own language, processes, tools and techniques, and each supported by specialists and experts. These include business continuity, corporate governance, health & safety, project and programme risk, operational risk, reputation risk, cyber risk, information security, and many more.

ERM aims to integrate these various elements of risk management into a cohesive whole. It provides a single unifying framework within which each risk discipline can operate, allowing each specialism to focus on its own approach, but ensuring that they communicate with each other and support each other. ERM recognises that each risk discipline is distinct, but they are all interconnected and interdependent.


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About the Author

pmwj36-Jul2015-Hillson-PHOTODr. David Hillson

The Risk Doctor


Dr David Hillson CMgr FRSA FIRM FCMI HonFAPM PMI-Fellow is The Risk Doctor (http://www.risk-doctor.com/).  As an international risk consultant, David is recognised as a leading thinker and expert practitioner in risk management. He consults, writes and speaks widely on the topic and he has made several innovative contributions to the field. David’s motto is “Understand profoundly so you can explain simply”, ensuring that his work represents both sound thinking and practical application.

David Hillson has over 25 years’ experience in risk consulting and he has worked in more than 40 countries, providing support to clients in every major industry sector, including construction, mining, telecommunications, pharmaceutical, financial services, transport, fast-moving consumer goods, energy, IT, defence and government. David’s input includes strategic direction to organisations facing major risk challenges, as well as tactical advice on achieving value and competitive advantage from effectively managing risk.

David’s contributions to the risk discipline over many years have been recognised by a range of awards, including “Risk Personality of the Year” in 2010-11. He received both the PMI Fellow award and the PMI Distinguished Contribution Award from the Project Management Institute (PMI®) for his work in developing risk management. He is also an Honorary Fellow of the UK Association for Project Management (APM), where he has actively led risk developments for nearly 20 years. David Hillson is an active Fellow of the Institute of Risk Management (IRM), and he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) to contribute to its Risk Commission. He is also a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and a Member of the Institute of Directors (IOD).

Dr Hillson can be contacted at [email protected].

To see other works previously published in the PM World Journal by Dr David Hillson, visit his author showcase at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/dr-david-hillson/