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You can't engineer out all risk

From our Expert Voices conversation on pro football.

Every profession has its own dangers. We should minimize risks when possible, but there is no way to engineer out all risk.

As a CIA officer, I met with men and women in dangerous environments around the world. Environments fraught with terrorism, poverty, war, corruption and despotism. These assets counted on me to do everything I could to protect them as they put their lives, and sometimes my own, at risk.

So did that risk mean we shouldn't do the work we set out to do? No, it meant I needed to understand the risk and prepare for it. I trained for the job at hand. I gained experience and built skills. I learned to assess risks, analyze and make better decisions. And continually developed new tools and technologies that allowed us to reduce risk. None of those tools are perfect, however, and in the end, the CIA officer has to make an informed risk assessment. Do we meet? Or abort?

Bottom line: You can't remove risk. But with tools and training, you can help those taking the risks be better prepared to make their choice.

Read the other voices in the conversation:

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