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Risk-based Thinking – Quieting our Lizard Brain

Raimund Laqua

Identifying risks and reacting to problems when they occur uses our "Lizard Brain," which is fast and needed for a fight-and-flight response to survive in the present and short term.

However, looking for opportunities and being proactive to prevent problems and ensure goals are achieved requires use of the slower part of our brain, which is focused on "thinking" and offers the ability to choose, design, create and anticipate so we can survive in the longer term.

As companies continuously try to increase production, we seldom have the time necessary for our brains to think.To succeed, we must slow down and quiet our "lizard brain" long enough so that we can put in place what is needed to ensure mission success. However, slowing down is not easy and that is one of the reasons why risk-based thinking is hard to do.

The following steps can help us use our whole brain when contending with uncertainties:

  1. Separate risk identification (fast brain) from risk analysis and assessment (slow brain)
  2. Beware of cognitive biases such as: optimism, confirmation, anchoring, ostrich effect, zero-risk, etc..
  3. Consider both threats (fast brain) and opportunities (slow brain)
  4. Don't rush - create time to engage the slow part of your brain


To learn more, please visit To connect, email Raimund at or call (289)799-9655    

Original post:

August 01, 2018 @ 12:57 PM EDT Risk Management

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