Author: Mark Thompson, Founder & MD

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What are the chances, eh?

Speaking the truth to power.


That old anecdote about the NASA floor-sweeper saying, ‘I’m putting a man on the moon,’ is truer than most realize. On a risk assessment, I always try to get everyone in the room—from those directly involved to the ancillary and support staff.

Back in the day, when projects still had secretaries, I asked ours along to a session for a rig due for drydock repairs. In a stuffy meeting room, we brainstormed all the risks we could think of. She knew the rig had a tall derrick and asked, ‘What about lightning?’

The rig had lightning conductors to deal with any strike safely, as one of the team rather condescendingly told her. I insisted it was a valid point, but it ended up low-probability/low-impact on the risk register.

When it came time to dock the rig, we pressed ahead during a storm without incident. Then, as shore power was being hooked up, lightning struck. Not the rig itself, but the headland surrounding the dock.

Power surged through the shore-power cables, causing a fire in the rig’s transformer room. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but it added costly and unexpected scope to the job.

The management and engineers were left in no doubt about the value of inclusivity.  Sometimes non-‘experts’ have the best intuition.


[Image credit: Rachel Sanner on Unsplash]