Working In Uncertainty

Promoting integrated management of risk/uncertainty


Welcome. This website and my work promote understanding and use of ways to manage risk/uncertainty as an integral part of core management and other intellectual activities, such as planning, design, and decision-making. This is especially relevant to anyone with an interest in management methods or design, and even more so if risk is your greatest interest.

Managing risk/uncertainty naturally and integrally can be done in lots of ways and I want to help you understand and use them. Many useful techniques are easy to understand and to use. Others take a little longer to grasp. I try hard to keep my explanations simple, clear, and evenly paced, with plenty of examples.

Most of the help available from this website falls into four themes:

  1. Managing risk/uncertainty through your skills in key situations: Topics covered range from preparing for a stressful task and comforting a child in pain through to situations at work like evaluating a project proposal and chairing a meeting. There's free online training, articles to read, and I am available to help through individual technical tutoring, workshops, and shorter presentations.

  2. Managing risk/uncertainty by improving an organization's ways of working: An original programme of survey research has revealed what most people think is good risk management and how to encourage it. You can read the survey reports and related articles and case studies. I am also available to help you do this kind of work through expert design contributions and individual technical tutoring.

  3. Managing risk/uncertainty by going beyond lists of risks: The research shows that the risk management we prefer is not to list risks and then decide what to do with them. Almost everyone would prefer to manage risk in a more natural way as an integral part of doing their jobs. As a member of the committee at BSI that works on general risk management standards I have worked hard for several years to promote healthy change. If you are one of those people who feel trapped by risk registers I warmly encourage you to look at ways to escape. It's not as hard as you might think and lots of people feel the same as you.

  4. Managing risk/uncertainty by automating thinking: Most of our management of risk does not involve maths and computers but there are many situations where a person with the right skills can gain advantage by getting a computer to do the thinking. Think of it as a power tool for the mind.

The story behind Working In Uncertainty

This website is consulted by many experts, including practitioners from leading companies, charities, and government departments, researchers, bloggers, and the authors of new standards and guidance. My research has even influenced the wording of key requirements placed on listed companies. I am in frequent contact with other leading thinkers on risk, control, governance, and management generally as we help each other forward.

How did this happen?

The story has been of a gradual transition from the rather narrow ideas and services I learned about while employed by PricewaterhouseCoopers – all about risk management and internal controls, with lots of lists – to a much more open, technically more varied and natural perspective that also encompasses ideas and techniques from science and mathematics.

I've always worked hard to learn and to push for improvements, and along the way I've helped a lot of clients (e.g. BT, BP, and the Department for Communities and Local Government) written two books and countless articles, earned two Certificates of Distinguished Service from the British Standards Institution for my work on risk standards, and helped hundreds of university students through my lecturing and supervision.

But what has moved my thinking on more than any of this has been my surveys to find out what most people think on matters to do with risk and management. These have revealed that I'm not a maverick or a revolutionary. In fact, I'm mostly speaking for the overlooked majority.


Interview with Jonathan Norman of Gower

Jonathan Norman is the publisher at Gower who encouraged me to write my first book. In these very short videos he is asking me about some key themes in the book. Gower wanted to make very short videos, so our conversation was edited down to these two.

Part 1.

Part 2.

Interview with ACCA

To spread the findings of our research into how accountants support better management under uncertainty, this interview was recorded. The interviewer is Ewan Willars of ACCA, who backed the research along with Paul Moxey.

Presentation at the Institute of Engineering and Technology

The Institute recorded my presentation and still have it available on their website. The slides aren't always in step with what I'm saying!

Solving Compliance Problems Creatively

Matthew Leitch

Presentation from The Information Professional IT Compliance Conference 2007: Savoy Place, London, UK Speaker: Matthew Leitch, Independent Consultant and Researcher

2007-07-11 12:00:00.0 IT Channel

>> go to webcast>> recommend to friend

Hundreds of people receive notification of new publications every month. They include company directors, heads of finance, of internal audit, of risk management, and of internal control, professors, and other influential authors and researchers.

Please share:            Share on Tumblr


New guidance from the Centre for Risk Research

Directing risk management in organizations” is a new guide to overseeing risk management from the Centre for Risk Research at the Southampton Business School, University of Southampton. This is a fresh alternative to documents like COSO's ERM framework and the FRC's guidance on risk management.

Collaboration with Nik Silver

Nik and I have written “How does a risk expert behave?” together and it has been great to work with someone as interesting and intelligent as Nik. There's more from him on his blog:

Centre for Risk Research

The University of Southampton's Centre for Risk Research now has me as a member and as its representative on the RM/1 (risk management) committee at BSI. The Centre does a wide range of interesting research and projects with clients. I have been a visiting lecturer there for several years and the experience has greatly increased my knowledge and abilities.

Breakthrough publication by IFAC

IFAC have published an important new paper called 'From Bolt-on to Built-in: Managing Risk as an Integral Part of Managing an Organization' written by Vincent Tophoff (with some input from me and Grant Purdy). This does not feature the usual 'risk management process' and, instead, looks at how to tackle any decision in a better way with risk in mind. Vincent has done a fantastic job of keeping Risk Listing out of this document and the result is impressive. This is an important step in the right direction.

New presentation by Nik Silver

Nik Silver ( is a an interesting guy whose blog is worth visiting. After we had a chat recently he produced this excellent presentation. I particularly like the points later on about seeing the bigger picture and making process changes.

Tutoring service developing

The individual technical tutoring service has moved to a new level now that I have completed the first phase of a very exciting project with a team at a central government department in the UK. I had tutoring sessions with every team member and was able to help them apply ideas covered in an earlier workshop. Individual sessions work much better than group sessions.

Feedback from readers

"It makes perfect sense" wrote one reader from Australia of Working In Uncertainty. Agnes Wilson, Risk & Assurance Manager at the Manukau Institute of Technology in New Zealand, wrote saying "Great to see a website that doesn't just reiterate the same textbook phrases and definitions but takes a real world and practical view of what uncertainty means in business." Others have written saying they would like to promote this kind of approach or saying they want to write about it. This website is still new and little-known, but this is encouraging early feedback.

Videos on YouTube

Gower, who published my first book, interviewed me recently about the book and related topics. They put together two very short videos, which you can see here and here.

Company: The Ridgeway Expertise Company Ltd, registered in England, no. 04931400.

Registered office: 29 Ridgeway, KT19 8LD, United Kingdom.

Words © 2015 Matthew Leitch