Risk – Identification – a question of diversity, communication, and guts.

The risk identification process could be described as the art of understanding your business. Do you?

The question I receive regularly from my clients and mentees over the last weeks is: “how do you ensure that the risk landscape is complete”. As you might expect, there is no clear answer but a lot of different approaches how to manage the risk identification processPersonally, and professionally

Risk meets diversity and communication

“The maturity level of a risk landscape depends on the involved diversity.” No matter with what perspective you look at diversity and what biases influence the perspective – the more diverse the decision making team is, the better an organisation is protected.

Reflecting what a risk landscape is for I like to choose more tangible examples than a risk framework which is for some professionals still a less preferred topic. You could easily test my hypothesis by asking two kids, raised differently, at a different ages, cultural background and gender what could go wrong by trying to fly a dragon. You can also remember the game we played as a child where the first one whispered a sentence into the ear to the one next and this sentence will be transported one by one the to last in the row.

We all know the result at the end: the sentence was hardly the same as the one started with. Transporting what we hear, know, or learn is

  • Transported and
  • understood differently

It all goes back to the communication process which would be another topic to focus more on (yes, promised, I will do so as this is one of our key elements when we work in teams, no matter whether we mediate or negotiate or coach our clients to do so).

But what does this mean to us as leaders responsible for our people and businesses? In short: do not feel comfortable with a risk landscape made with a homogenic source. And here comes the rather avoided part of risk identification. The individual outing of the own risk intelligence. The more we allow to be taught again and again what kind of situations could harm our business the more savvy we become. And we can all practice our risk-intelligence. No matter at what stage we are right now.


How guts protect your business

Last week we had our risk workshop at our clients where six key risk owners were invited for the kick-off. As we all are aware of, a good risk management has its risk owners all over the organisations at their core functions. This also means that the perspectives (see above) are highly diverse already because of their professional background and expertise – if the recruiting process was seriously done.

Having these diverse group of risk owner together in a safe place already demonstrates the first inherent risk. The risk of unconsciously aligning to the crowd. In this setting the crowd was established by the risk owner and us.

As process owner (in this specific case done by our team) it is our duty to ensure that this risk can be avoided to allow an unbiased risk identification for the individual risk owner leading to the strategic business risk. For this joint work – always taking into consideration the specific settings of a organisation – it is key to hold that safe space, identify unconscious and conscious biases and to speak up. If these elements are not in the focus I promise, the risk identification process will hardly be reflecting what would be necessary to protect the organisation and its individuals.

It takes a certain amount of guts from all the involved parties – no matter whether these are risk owners, c-Level, team leaders or board members to speak up the potential risk harming an organisation from a very personal perspective. Which is of course built on the individual. Only this combined individual, built over years of experience, angle supports an effective risk identification process.

How are you ensuring that your risk landscape is built without restrictions?



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