Risk intelligence

Risk intelligence is a concept that generally means “beyond risk management”, though it has been used in different ways by different writers. The term is being used more frequently by business strategists when discussing integrative business processes related to governance, risk, and compliance.


The first non-definitive usage of the phrase “risk intelligence” appears in the 1980s and aligns to the definition of intelligence as being information from an enemy (for example, regarding credit risk.)[1] The topic of balancing risk and innovation using information and the cognitive processes involved also appears at this time.[2] Recent usage is more aligned to intelligence as understanding and problem solving.

The US business writer David Apgar defines it as the capacity to learn about risk from experience.[3]

Management consultant and risk advisor Rick Funston defines risk intelligence as a dynamic approach to protect and create value amid uncertainty. It is an enterprise wide process integrating people, processes (systems), and tools to increase information available to decision makers for improved decision making.[4]

The UK philosopher and psychologist Dylan Evans defines it as “a special kind of intelligence for thinking about risk and uncertainty”, at the core of which is the ability to estimate probabilities accurately.[5] Evans includes a risk intelligence test (RQ) in his book and on his website (below) analogous to IQ or EQ.

American financial executive, author, and Columbia University professor Leo Tilman defined risk intelligence as “The organizational ability to think holistically about risk and uncertainty, speak a common risk language, and effectively use forward-looking risk concepts and tools in making better decisions, alleviating threats, capitalizing on opportunities, and creating lasting value.”[6] He has argued that risk intelligence is essential to survival, success, and relevance of companies and investors in the post-crisis world. In this latest book Agility: How to Navigate the Unknown and Seize Opportunity in a World of Disruption (2019, co-authored with General Charles H. Jacoby Jr.), Tilman describes risk intelligence as a cornerstone of organizational agility.

Comparison with business intelligence

As an emerging concept, risk intelligence shares characteristics with other topics such as business intelligence and competitive intelligence. As such, there are some in those camps who believe that risk intelligence is the set of processes for the transformation of risk data into meaningful and useful information for risk analysis, treatment and planning purposes.


  1. ^Dedijer, Stevan (1987). Intelligence for Economic Development: An Inquiry into the Role of the Knowledge Industry. Oxford: Berg Pub Ltd. p. 288. ISBN 978-0854965205.
  2. ^Fischhoff, Baruch (1984). Acceptable Risk. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 204. ISBN 978-0521278928.
  3. ^Apgar, David (2006). Risk Intelligence: Learning to Manage What We Don’t Know. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing. p. 210. ISBN 1-59139-954-8.
  4. ^Funston, Frederick (2010). Surviving and thriving in uncertainty: creating the risk intelligent enterprise. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 338. ISBN 978-0-470-24788-4.
  5. ^Evans, Dylan (2012). Risk Intelligence: How to Live with Uncertainty. New York: Free Press. p. 288. ISBN 978-1-4516-1090-1.
  6. ^Tilman, L.. Risk Intelligence: A Bedrock of Dynamism and Lasting Value Creation Retrieved 2015-04-01

Ofer Abarbanel – Executive Profile

Ofer Abarbanel online library

Ofer Abarbanel online library

Ofer Abarbanel online library