The innovation of risk "bucket list"

Hello fellow Innovation of Riskers,

For those of you familiar with the movie, “The Bucket List”, you will be aware of the wish list of things to do before you “kick the bucket“.  This is the “Bucket List”.

So for today’s posting that is my starting point.  I am going to list the things we have to do before the Innovation of Risk kicks the bucket!  More precisely I am going to list the things that have to happen so that the Risk Manager can kick the bucket in his/her current form and shift to a new form entirely.

The ultimate goal on any successful Risk Manager is to not need to exist any longer.  Strange I know, that a professions goal is to no longer exist but it is true, at least the role in its current form.  What do I mean by “current form”?

Well quite simply, hands up those that have heard the following “We really need to implement this new xxxxxx but before we do we have to make sure our Risk Manager signs this off.”

Let’s deconstruct the later part of this sentence a little,  “make sure our Risk Manager signs this off”.

Firstly, strange language, we need to “make sure our Risk Manager”.  Why do you need to make sure of anything?  To me the only reason you want to make sure of something is as a “butt saving” (excuse the language) exercise.  It is not that this read, “we need to hear from the experienced”, or “lets seek the value from” which to me are much more valuable and preferable statements.

Then we have the second part, “signs this off”.  Why?  Is the Risk Manager actually responsible for all the risks?  Does the Risk Manager have accountability for this xxxxxxx thing?

Strange, if you decide to walk across the street and not use the location of the traffic lights and you get hit by a car, it’s your risk right?  Now, if in the scenario you turn around and ask your “Risk Manager” (clearly a being that just revolves around you like a fairy at all times) to sign off  on crossing the road, and then you get hit by the car, it’s the Risk Managers fault right?  I mean he/she signed it off!  Surely that makes them equally accountable, if not more accountable?

This is just bizarre.  There is a saying, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”?  Well in this world of risk management, it should read “beauty is in the eye of the person who signs off for the beholder”.

So, what is it I am trying to say?

For me, risk management is not about the Risk Manager but about the management of risk by the accountable person.  The role of the Risk Manager is therefore not to own the risks but to ensure the risk owners are aware, informed and take clear accountability for the risks they are taking.  They know what may happen when they cross any road, not just the road in front on them.

So, that leads me back to the “bucket list”.  This list is what needs to happen to stop everyone asking the Risk Manager for permission and instead ask the Risk Manager for the tools and knowledge to make the decision.

BUCKET LIST 2010 for the Risk Manager

  1. Stop signing off on things
  2. Invest in technologies and tools that provide knowledge to the user
  3. Change the way we deliver the message
  4. Make risk management relevant through context for the business
  5. Stop worrying about being at the “leadership table” and worry about the leaders being at the table with the knowledge
  6. Be a positive influence on the decision makers mind
  7. Innovate in the way we scan the horizon to provide real forward looking insight
  8. Embrace technologies that bring information to the fore and allow real-time interaction
  9. Let go of power and embrace empowerment
  10. And, be the life of the “party” with the business

All of these things should lead the Risk Manager to not being that “fairy” at the traffic light but instead being that voice in the persons head to help them consider the risks and make the most appropriate decision themselves, well before they even get to that decision point.  So, when it comes to crossing the road they do so well aware of the facts and factors that will influence the result and they proceed across the road empowered, informed and ready for the consequences.

This task is not hard, it just takes maturity and guts from the Risk Manager to make it happen.  To stand up and be counted for what they should be counted for.  To be what makes real cultural change occur and then results in better business performance.

It is but a simple revolution.

The vision of the future having seen the achievement of this “bucket list”, we will ensure a wonderful death for the Innovation of Risk and then a wonderful rebirth.


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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