Risk Doctor Briefing: Using the “Six Value Medals” to Identify and Assess Risk


Dr David Hillson FIRM, HonFAPM, PMI Fellow

The Risk Doctor 


Edward de Bono is famous for promoting creative thinking, and he has written many books to explain his radical ideas. Perhaps his best-known technique is the Six Thinking Hats®, encouraging people to adopt a range of different perspectives when thinking about an issue. Indeed the Six Thinking Hats can be very helpful in risk identification.

One of de Bono’s other thinking tools is the Six Value MedalsTM. These describe different types of value which are important to people and organisations, and against which we can perform a “value scan” when making decisions or determining courses of action. The Six Value Medals have many potential uses, as we seek to create and protect value. But they may also help us to think about risk in a new way.

The simple definition of risk as “uncertainty that matters” shows that we need to understand what matters before we can find the uncertainties that we need to manage. If we are managing risk at the business level, things that matter might include corporate objectives such as protecting reputation, generating shareholder value and ensuring sustainability. At project level we are usually concerned about achieving project objectives such as time, cost and performance. Risks are uncertainties that, if they occur, would affect achievement of one of these objectives. The objectives are also used as risk impact types in the risk process, so that we can assess how much each risk might matter.

de Bono’s Six Value Medals offer an alternative view of what matters, and so they could help us to find risks that we otherwise might overlook. They can also form the basis of a set of impact types against which we can assess and prioritise our risks. These are the Six Value Medals:

  • Gold Medal: Human values. Gold is precious, and so are people. This medal covers the things that matter directly to people, both positive and negative. These include pride, achievement, praise or humiliation, a sense of belonging or isolation, hope, trust, and growth. 


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About the Author

Dr. David HillsonDr. David Hillson 


Dr David Hillson CMgr FRSA FIRM FCMI HonFAPM PMI-Fellow is The Risk Doctor (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].