Episode Summary

On today’s episode, we discuss whether risk matrices help us make better decisions. This is our first listener-submitted question!

Episode Notes

In order to guide our discussion, we will use the paper Further Thoughts on the Utilities of Risk Matrices.


  • The risk matrix was something to use to determine expected values.
  • Today, the risk matrix is a table, not just an equation.
  • Risk matrices can prove helpful in decision making.
  • There are a few types of papers that discuss the efficacy of risk matrices.
  • The Loss of Information idea.
  • Cox’s coloring rules for matrices.
  • How formal decision making processes can be damaging.
  • How risk matrices are often used in organizations


“The assumption is that we use risk matrices, because they help us, in some way, to make decisions.”

“…What you’re representing on the matrix is less information than you started with: It’s either less precision than you had or its not representing the full range of uncertainty…”

“We’ve got a lot of tools in safety and risk management…and it’s worth knowing how those tools are being used and how effective people find them…”


Ball, D. J., & Watt, J. (2013). Further thoughts on the utility of risk matricesRisk analysis33(11), 2068-2078.

Anthony (Tony) Cox Jr, L. (2008). What’s wrong with risk matrices?Risk Analysis: An International Journal28(2), 497-512.