5 reasons why collaboration is critical for the innovation of risk


Over the past few years it has become clearer to me that the more collaboration that occurs within the organisation, the more productive and outcome focused the organisation becomes.

This is true for the organisation as a whole but even more true for the innovation of risk.  In order to effectively innovate you need to amalgamate ideas from a diverse set of skills sets and minds.  The innovation of risk relies even more on this amalgamation due to the diverse nature of subject matter experts (SMEs) across risk and all are required to assist in the development of innovative solutions.

Take the simple example of innovation of the Anti-Money Laundering Know Your Customer process.  For a successful innovative solution in this space you need to harness the power of your operational risk experts, your compliance experts (including AML but also through to areas such as Privacy and Legal), your fraud experts and depending on the product set you plan to use this process for, credit experts as well.

The difficulty in this proposition is showing the organisation the value that collaboration brings through providing tangible financial benefits, as this collaboration leads to a better, more robust and innovative solution, but potentially does not directly provide a financial benefit.

Almost 5 years ago I was fortunate enough to attend a Gartner conference on technology infrastructure and future trends.  It was at this conference that my eyes were opened to the power of the collaborative technologies which include, even back then, document management solutions, wikis, blogs, real-time instance messaging, video conferencing and corporate micro-blogging (aka twitter and Yammer).  I was sold there and then.  No need for in depth analysis of why this is valuable, to me it was as logical as deciding to implement the pen and paper, or the usage of email.

So, why was I sold so quickly on the concept.  For me there were 5 simple reasons why collaboration was required for the innovation of risk:

  1. Provides the only possible way to bring all people together across time zones and locations, without the unnecessary cost of interstate or global travel;
  2. Allows the sharing of ideas in a real-time manner, and the real-time discussion on these matters without the need to send an email or letter which is delayed or addressed later;
  3. Provides the ability to record, amend, reflect, review and enhance an idea without issues of version control or information control by a single individual;
  4. Allows individuals with different styles of interaction and behaviours (i.e. introverts v extroverts, Gen X / Gen Y) to interact using their preferred method of communication; and finally
  5. Provides the tools to easily link to factual information to ensure better decision making.

Each of these sounds so simple and obvious and yet not everyone can see or even accept these new technologies. To me there is only one logical explanation why this is the case and that is all due to the individual and their inherent desire to maintain their knowledge as a protectionist mechanism.

To me, the most powerful and important person in your workforce is the one that communicates and shares information without thought or consideration to their jobs tenure or safety.  But to the contrary, accepts the position that through knowledge sharing you are providing a better working environment which will generate better business outcomes.

This is most true within the innovation of risk and I have no doubt in my mind that without living by these 5 key drivers, I would not be able to achieve my own personal goals as well as the goals for the organisation.


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Scott North has extensive experience in enterprise risk management, internal audit, operational risk and compliance, risk strategy, scenario planning, technology risk, technology business analysis, systems design, financial accounting, and management accounting. Scott is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Chartered Accountants with a Masters Degree from the University of Melbourne in Business and Information Technology. Scott is also a Fellow of the University of Melbourne.