Avoiding tripping over the hurdles of risk

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In life, it is extremely easy to forget what is important to you as a Risk Manager, may not be important to others. In addition, not only do we sometimes forget what is important, we confuse what is urgent with what is important. For those of you familiar with the “7 Habits” this will sound extremely familiar.

Showing resilience and efficiency requires the Risk Manager to be concious of the distinction between importance and urgency.

Too often Risk Managers get caught up in what is considered urgent, thereby neglecting what is important and not actually delivering true businsss value.

In this respect it is often assumed that the Risk Manager should be the first person to know and take responsibility when an issue or event arises.  They will lead the way by ensuring that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and their actions.  In addition, they will be the gatekeeper of ensuring the event or issue is managed through the process, and make key decisions.

Unfortunately if your Risk Manager is doing this then he or she is actually not helping the business manage risk but rather becoming part of the problem.  Why do we say this?

The role of the Risk Manager is not to manage your risk for you but rather to provide the platforms, spaces and thoughts to make risk management a critical component of running a successful business.  Effectively, the role of the Risk Manager is to coach and train you not to trip over the hurdles but rather jump all of the hurdles without hitting them.  But when you do happen to knock one and have an issue or event, that it does not see you or your business completely fail but rather manage through the small trip with resilience and efficiency.

This then allows the Risk Manager to focus on the next 20, 30, 50, 100 or 1,000 hurdles that may be in front of your business, and provide you with the information to better help you leap those hurdles with efficiency and effectiveness.

So, pay attention Risk Managers to the choices of importance and urgency of what you are focusing on as your true goal should be to help your business achieve ultimate business success through each employees ownership and responsibility of risk management.

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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.

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  1. Great analogy. Unfortunately more often that not risk managers are seen as the hurdle! It takes time and perseverance to change mindsets and behaviours.

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