Using a unique multidisciplinary methodology, Britten Coyne Partners helps boards and management teams around the world to better anticipate, assess, and adapt to existential threats to their strategy’s success and their company’s survival.

In 1921, Frank Knight made a critical distinction between risk and uncertainty. The former includes situations where we do not know a future outcome for certain, but do know the range of possible outcomes and their associated probabilities. The latter includes everything else. Knight termed the first condition “risk”, and the second, “uncertainty” (others have called it “ambiguity”).

Enterprise Risk Management has traditionally focused on situations where uncertainty can be quantified, priced, and often transferred to other parties — that is, Knightian Risk. However, organizations confront many more situations and decisions that involve Knightian Uncertainty, and beyond that, Donald Rumsfeld’s famous “unknown unknowns” — the threats and opportunities that are hidden by our ignorance.

Today our increasingly connected, complex, non-linear environment gives rise to more uncertainty, ignorance, and threats than ever before.

The economic value of better governance and management of dangerous mix is clearly very substantial.

A Booz&Co study (
“The Lesson of Lost Value”) found that strategic risk was responsible for over eighty percent of the cases of significant enterprise value destruction. Another study (“How Much Can Firms Know?” by Ormerod and Rosewell) found that even a small improvement in strategic insight can substantially reduce the risk of corporate failure.

Britten Coyne provides (1)
education offerings to improve individual and collective organizational capacity for governing and managing strategic uncertainties; (2) design and facilitation of board and management processes that overcome human biases and produce rich discussions about strategic uncertainties ; (3) independent monitoring services, focused on early warning indicators and the remaining Safety Margin for critical strategic uncertainties, as well as the search for information that challenges key strategy assumptions, and (4) customized analyses of critical strategic uncertainties, including structured “Red Team” and other competitive analysis techniques.

We also provide speakers for meetings and conferences, focusing on the causes of strategic risk failures and how to avoid them.

Neil Britten and Tom Coyne have over a half century of global experience in addressing strategic risk and uncertainty issues, as officers and directors of public and private companies, and as advisors to chairmen, directors, boards, and executive teams.

Feedback from our clients:

“I’ve been involved in many board risk conversations. This was new, different, very practical, and extremely helpful.”

“We’ve had a lot of external speakers at our board meetings who have been rubbish, but you were really excellent.”

“We’re having a board conversation that was impossible before.”

For more information about us and how we can help your board or management team, you can
download this overview of our firm.

We have just published
the result of our field research into the critical relationship between non-executive chairmen/chairwomen or lead directors and their CEOs, including how they can be misperceived by both parties, how they evolve over time (and can very quickly change), how when they are working well they can paradoxically increase strategic risk, and what can be done to address this board governance challenge. Many of our findings also apply to boards with a combined Chair/CEO and a lead/independent director. We hope you find our whitepaper an thought-provoking read. The summary which appeared in Directors and Boards magazine is available here.

To get to know Neil and Tom a bit better, and to learn more about their work, join them for a short chat in the pub...

Contact us for more information about how we can help your board better govern the strategic risks facing your organization.

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