Popular Posts

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Risk Assessment? Just Go For It!

From time to time a jewel appears in the overall dross of social media and I picked up a quote from one of my "friends" recently (thank you Roxana Chegini!) which went like this:

"Only those who will risk going too far, can possibly find out how far they can go".

That made me think about the all pervading perceived need for constant "risk assessment" in corporate and particularly public sector life.

Risk is a peculiar concept to assess, in that one person's perception of risk can vary wildly from another's.  Considering it coldly, any assessment of risk is essentially negative: don't do that because etc. and constant harping on the element of risk in a project tends to engender a negative approach.

What if we said, for example: "The risk assessment shows that we are in danger of starting a massively successful project"?   Very unlikely, I grant, but it would be a refreshing change from doom, gloom and naysayers.

I am not suggesting that we should ignore any possible risk in a project, but it needs to be in context.   One problem is that the assessment can throw up any and every possible combination of risk which can lead to action being taken to eliminate everything which is a potential danger to the project.

The best way to eliminate risk is not to do anything.  Saying NO makes sure that no mistakes are made even if nothing is achieved.   It is impossible to achieve 100% so the best solution is to decide on what degree of success is acceptable.

Weigh the likelihood of success and failure and if it comes down on the side of success, then go for it, taking a sensible view of what might go awry.

In the end, hustler hustles, and doesn't take much note of the risk, or at least, is prepared to accept that there is risk but still goes for it.  It can be very exciting and for some, too exciting.  The considered and sensible approach works.

"Only those who will risk going too far, can possibly find out how far they can go".

That is what Nigel (in the Archers soap) did, and if he had taken a sensible view of climbing on the roof last week, we might have been spared the long drawn out saga of his demise, but that's show business, I guess.

For more information visit www.vistage.co.uk and www.maa-uk.co.uk
To contact us, email to ivan.goldberg@vistage.co.uk

1 comment:

David Bannister said...

Doing nothing is not a valid strategy for avoiding risk, particularly for one who finds themselves in the way of danger. Nor is a risk assessment destined to produce a negative answer. On the contrary, risk assessment is a valid and useful tool for all organisations in determining how to proceed with an acceptable level of risk, acceptable that is to the controlling body. If the level of risk exposure is assessed as too high then adequate controls need to be put in place so that the exposure is limited to what is acceptable.
That last bit is what the banks seemed to have forgotten and we are now all paying the penalty for dreadful risk management by those who are paid (handsomely)to have done better.
Used as a business tool, risk assesment is very useful. Sadly it too often becomes an excuse for the lazy to say "no"