How Many Risk Managers Do You Know? The Answer May Surprise You
“Everybody gets a car!” ~Oprah Winfrey
I didn’t watch the Oprah Winfrey Show when it aired from 1986 to 2011. But like a lot of you, I was aware of the talk show that became a big part of American television history.
One of the most famous moments was when Oprah Winfrey gave away a free car to each and every member of her studio audience. It happened on September 13, 2004. Here’s the video. We all remember how Oprah pointed to members of the audience and repeatedly said “You get a car! You get a car! You get car!”
By now you may be wondering “Why is he talking about an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show in an article about risk managers?” Keep reading to know why.
I’ll start by sharing something that my colleague Taze Young likes to say. Taze is Senior Product Manager of our Risk and Assurance solutions at Enablon. When he speaks to a company, or presents at a conference, Taze likes to remind everyone in the audience that they are all risk managers. It’s not just people with the title “Risk Manager” or any title with the words “Risk Management” who must have a risk mindset and think about risks.
Everybody in your organization is a risk manager, including you. Everybody must adopt a risk mindset in their everyday tasks. What does this mean? Here are some habits to adopt, and which help you develop a risk mindset:
- For each of your objectives, determine proactively the potential obstacles that may prevent the objective from being achieved. This does not apply only to objectives set by your manager or management, but also the goals that you set for yourself (e.g. finalize the new pricing policy for a product line before a specific date).
- Don’t just ask “What is wrong”, but also “What could go wrong”. For example, you want to launch a new product in Q1 2020. You don’t see any problems so far. But can there be potential problems? Is there a specific employee in engineering who is critical and whose temporary absence (illness, vacation, family emergency) could impact the schedule? Also, how confident are you about the delivery dates communicated by parts suppliers?
- For each potential obstacle or problem, think about measures to mitigate the risk. For example, if you’re worried that your sales goals in a specific country may be at risk because you only have one local salesperson, maybe consider partnering with local resellers.
- Don’t just put control measures into place to mitigate risks. Monitor the controls continuously to make sure they are effective.
- Don’t look at the effect of uncertainty on objectives only as something negative, but also as a potential opportunity. For example, if you purchase the same material from five different suppliers, and three stop manufacturing it, maybe you can renegotiate a better price from the other two because of greater purchased quantities from each, or you can substitute for another material that’s cheaper.
It’s important to highlight that everybody is a risk manager in the organization. Just like Oprah told individual members of her audience “You get a car! You get a car! You get car!”, similarly you can tell all your colleagues one-by-one “You’re a Risk Manager! You’re a Risk Manager! You’re a Risk Manager!”.
View the recording of our webinar with COFACE to learn more about their GRC journey with Enablon, and how to centralize risk, control and assurance activities: