Designed by a man unconstrained by considerations of practicality or aesthetics, the Amphicar 770 was a vehicle that combined a car and a boat in one package. Some 4,000 people found this disarmingly charming in the 1960s and bought said vehicle. 93% were Americans, to add to their collection of cars sporting timber bodies and Flash Gordon fins.
It was called the 770 in optimistic celebration of its performance. It could travel at 7 knots (miles per hour) on the water and 70 miles per hour on land. It has been creatively described as the fastest car on water and the fastest boat on land though I suspect there was scant competition for either title.
Options were offered – an anchor for example (which one imagines impaired performance and handling a bit further), navigation lights and even a flagpole. There was one in the town I grew up in, and occasionally I had the thrill of seeing it drive into the Thames river and, miraculously, out again. I loved it. But then, I was five years old, and I also loved the Magic Roundabout.
There were some practical problems with the Amphicar 770, as you might imagine. For example, the owner had to re-grease the vehicle in thirteen different places after each exit from the water, which required taking out the back seats. You also steered it in water, just as on land – with the front wheels, so it was only slightly more controllable than a log.
It was expensive too – US$3,300. I have done some research. For the same price, you could have bought a Triumph TR3 that would do well over 100 mph and – well, try looking at it without drooling:
But that’s not all, you would also have had money left over for a Neptune Sixteen speedboat with a mahogany deck, that would do 40 knots and carry six people:
You have to wonder what the purchasers of the Amphicar 770 were thinking, wouldn’t you agree?
And how is this relevant to risk management?
… you might well ask.
GRC (governance, risk management, and compliance) software is like the Amphicar 770. GRC tools are sold as ticking all the boxes of G, R and C – they do everything, much like the Amphicar 770 ticked the boxes for both a boat and a car – as long as you didn’t have a practical need for either.
COVID-19 has been a wake-up call for many businesses who now realise that the purpose of risk management is to help ensure a company survives in bad times and thrives in good times, and they haven’t been doing it at all. Instead, they’ve been faithfully using their GRC tools to collate quarterly reports listing top ten risks with scores and heat maps, getting the reports signed off and stored for auditors to look at should they ever ask. Pushing my analogy, they find themselves in stormy seas sitting in an overpriced Amphicar 770. It was carefree fun when they were pottering around the marina, spending lots of time applying grease to all thirteen points, switching on the navigation lights and running a flag to comply with coastguard regulations, but now they find themselves in the open sea wishing they were in a proper boat.
The marketing bit
If you are looking for something that actually helps you manage risk (and how could you not be right now?), that can get start working for you in days, and that won’t cost a fortune, I invite you to take a look at the Pelican risk management system. It isn’t an audit tool, or a document management system, or any of the other things GRC software purport to be. It is just the best risk analysis and management system on the market. It will help you survive COVID-19.
 Astonishingly, he also designed the Mercedes Gullwing, one of the most beautiful cars ever made.