Spoiler Alert: This articles contains spoilers up to and including season 3 of Game of Thrones.

Last week we studied Robert Baratheon and succession planning, this week we’ll be focusing on the Young Wolf, Robb Stark.

It is firmly recommended that you read the first episode on Robert Baratheon before continuing on with Episode 02.



Robb Stark

Robb of the House Stark, First of His Name,

Lord of Winterfell and King in the North.


Robb is the eldest son of Ned Stark, the leader of the stoic, northern Great House. The Starks are honourable, hardened and loyal and this is exactly how Robb ruled as King in the North. Robb is left in command of Winterfell after his father travels to King’s Landing to serve as Hand of the King to Robert Baratheon. After hearing of his father’s arrest, Robb marches south with his army and declares war on the Lannisters and the Crown. Following his father’s beheading, Robb is proclaimed King in the North by his bannermen. Meanwhile, Robb’s sisters, Arya and Sansa, are being held captive in King’s Landing. Robb’s only (uncharacteristically) disloyal act was breaking the vow to marry one of Lord Frey’s (a prospective ally’s) daughters and this ultimately led to the massacre of the Red Wedding, where he lost his life.


“There must always be a Stark in Winterfell. Until I return that will be you. You are not to leave the castle walls while we are gone, do you understand? Listen to Maester Luwin. Look after your little brother.”

– Robb Stark’s ill-fated last words to Bran Stark


The Lesson

Although important, I’ll choose not to focus on Robb breaking his promise to House Frey and instead take a step back and ask whether Robb should have marched south in the first place? Alternatively, should Robb have retreated after learning of the death of his father? I’d like to suggest a framework to aid in making those decisions. Robb should have made his combat decisions using a risk appetite framework. A risk appetite framework clearly sets out how much and what types of risk a company (or ruler) is willing to bear. Once the risk becomes too great, action should be taken to reduce the risk. Using this framework and having a thoroughly developed risk register, Robb would have realised that marching the entire Northern army south, when the reward of rescuing his father is no longer possible, was ill-advised.


Robb’s risk appetite statement may have looked something like this:


“House Stark is prepared to bear risk in seeking to avenge their fallen kinsmen up to a limit of the ratio of 1:2 men against an opposing army. At no time is House Stark willing to leave Winterfell, its ancestral home, under-guarded for more than 7 consecutive days.”


The second artefact Robb could have used in planning his war is a risk register. Robb’s risk register would have been constantly changing as he is presented with new information. For example: the death of his father, taking Jaime Lannister captive or Theon Greyjoy taking Winterfell. At one stage in the war, Robb’s risk register may have looked like this:


Robb Stark’s Risk Register


It is important to note that a risk should only be taken if the reward justifies it and it is within the bounds of your risk appetite. After the death of Ned Stark, the reward for storming King’s Landing had decreased – perhaps he could have negotiated the release of Arya and Sansa, or perhaps he could have sent a small band of soldiers to infiltrate and rescue them. The reward for marching south with the entire Northern army against the Lannisters has diminished and so should have the risk Robb was prepared to take. Remember that risk is dynamic; risk registers need to be reviewed frequently to ensure you make the best decisions.


ASX Corporate Governance Council Recommendation 7 is to recognise and manage risk and Robb failed to do so. The greatest risk was Arya and Sansa being killed but a close second was leaving Winterfell undermanned and under-protected with the knowledge of the slowly encroaching winter. Could Robb have addressed the “Arya and Sansa” issue a little more “surgically” and tactfully? I’ll let you decide if Robb could have saved his sisters and avoided his brutal murder.


Next week we’ll be looking at everyone’s favourite sadist and product of incest, Joffrey Baratheon and the importance of board charters.



Written By: Patrick Deruvo




Image References

  1. Feature Image provided by HBO



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