Interview with Fraunhofer Institute’s Researchers

We had the pleasure to talk with Sebastian Kurowski, Vivekanand and Dr. Christian Schunck about their latest research project co-founded by ZOIS. The project aimed to identify pragmatic approaches showing how professionals deal with varying outcomes of their risk assessments. More about the project can be found here.

ZOIS: Hello and thank you for your time Sebastian, Vivikanand and Christian, ZOIS is very happy that you helped us to gain more insight into risk management. The first thing we would like to know, what is the method you applied to do these interviews and also to get real data out of the interviews that we transcribed?

Sebastian: We approach this topic that is currently not very well understood in science. We don’t have any theories that can quantify this topic or can express it as a set of simple facts. Nevertheless, we have some idea of how the world could be and we can see different standards in the making. We have this mixture of knowledge vs. not knowing anything at all. Whenever we have that, we opt for going with a semi-structured interview. Semi-structured interviews follow a structured path, but they leave the possibility open for free discussion within the topic. Therefore, these are not suitable to confirm or falsify the hypothesis, because we deviate too much for that. On the other hand, they do not hinder us from learning more about the topic than we could foresee before the interviews.

ZOIS: Very interesting. Thank you for that. Vivekanand, I would like to ask you, as you did most of the interviews, what was the method of doing the interview. Did you have a previously prepared set of questions?

Vivekanand: Yes, we had a few prepared questions. That was the main skeleton of the interview. Additionally, as Sebastian said, we had a second part; based on particular answers we received. We spontaneously asked further questions.

ZOIS: Thank you Vivekanand and Christian, I would like to know your point of view, as you also participated in the most of the interviews, what was your first impression of the people you interviewed, without looking at the data? What did you think about these risk managers from your scientific point of view?

Christian: I think it was a really good experience to meet these people who came from various backgrounds. Some of them worked in one of the largest companies in the world, others were consulting for companies and doing project management. They looked at the topic from their unique experience. Nevertheless, one could also see that they are passionate about this topic and that they deeply care about how this is executed. This gave us the opportunity to look from various angles and points of view and gain a rich picture of how risk management is done and what these experts think could be done better.

ZOIS: Thank you, Christian. Did you do similar things already with big companies or in another environment that we worked in together?

Christian: Yes, we conducted semi-structured interviews as part of the nationally funded SkIDentity research project and also as part of the EC funded SSEDIC research project. However, these were not about risk management and they were not focusing on the corporation’s internal issues, but they were largely concerned with, for example, end user’s needs or the market’s potential. We did have one interview series already in the past as part of the nationally-funded research project VERTRAG (Vertauensw├╝rdiger Austausch Geistigen Eigentums) on security management and security governance in the automotive industry. This gave us our first experience in asking about a corporation’s internal affairs, which is something that people are not always keen to disclose. You get the feeling for what you can ask and what you just can’t expect people to answer because it puts the interviewee in an awkward or uncomfortable situation.

ZOIS: If you look into risk management today and if you look into risk management after the results have been published, do you think this will be a major step for us and will bring some improvements to the way we are doing risk management?

Sebastian: Definitely. I think it’s not an improvement in the sense that everybody’s doing it wrong or that something is going in the wrong direction. These are small things that lead to big outages and money being wasted unnecessarily. Still, I think that this is a major step towards more efficient, fast and effective risk management in the sense of addressing all the risks with the right amount of money. I believe that some companies may spend too much money on addressing risk because they are driven more by fear rather than by data or judgments. Therefore, I think that these controlling measures that we put forward can definitely contribute to that not happening in the future or being less likely to happen in the future.

ZOIS: Again, thank you very much. We are looking forward to the results. The Zero Outage association really enjoys working with the three of you and the founder of the Institute and we look forward to further cooperation in the future. Thank you very much.

Christian: Thank you.

Sebastian: It was a pleasure also for us.

Vivekanand: Thank you.