Today's challenging times proves that uncertainty is a basic feature of organizational environments. In that context, organizations are now asked to better cope with that uncertainty. Risk managers (or risk professionals hereinafter) have a fundamental role to assist these organizations navigating through uncertain events.
These events can affect the achievement of objectives in both positive or negative ways.
Better incorporating the dimension of uncertainty in plans is a very hot topic nowadays as leaders and decision-makers are looking for ways to better prepare for what’s ahead. On one hand, different tools and methodologies facilitate how organizations can prepare and cope with volatility from their environment. For example, in Scenario Planning in Organizations, Thomas Chermack explains how organizations may benefit from using scenarios more extensively in moving forward. On the other hand, the crisis we are facing today also offers an opportunity for risk professionals, to take time to reconsider their role(s) in the organization and evolve as true business advisors.
Crises force us – as individuals or organizations – to change the way we live, the way we consume products and services, the way we exchange, the way we produce or deliver, and the way we work. That means crises deeply test organizations’ visions. It is undeniable that this crisis is also a test for the risk profession. If we – risk professionals – take no action today, we restore the conditions that could lead to risk management failures. In other words, for the risk professionals who continue to perform the way they did before the crisis, they won’t be able to exploit their full potential as true business advisors for leaders and decision-makers. As a matter of fact, this period is an opportunity for the risk profession to reinvent itself and imagine a new path for development.
What comes next?
Although the COVID-19 provokes challenging times, unprecedented self-reflection is possible. Here is my call for action to risk professionals:
- Question the type of work you are supposed to perform and how you will be able to perform it given the current circumstances. Do not hesitate to proactively defend the business case of your value proposition to your key stakeholders.
- Reflect on the (missed) opportunities and problems that arose before and during the crisis. In normal times, every risk manager has a specific role to play in the organization depending on the expectations set by his/her stakeholders. During the crisis that we face, his/her role has been more likely associated with the role of a business continuity/disaster recovery manager. Take all these elements into consideration to help you design tomorrow’s risk function.
- Reimagine your job and the role you play in the organization taking into account the constraints of today’s challenging business environment. Consider if it is time to take on different responsibilities to better respond to the evolving needs of your organization.
- Initiate or clarify the purpose and the perspectives of risk management with the leaders of your organization. Review your role together, perhaps redefine it, or change it deeply to make sure you become a more relevant business advisor to the organization.
- Set up a system for sharing ideas, thoughts, experience in order to discover new perspectives and challenge your own choices.
A key lesson from this crisis is that risk management should definitely have a seat at the table. It has an invaluable role to play in the decision-making process, performance management, and strategy. Tackling these points, I believe you will be well equipped to move forward.
Risk professionals: do what is right, not what is easy!
I welcome your thoughts!
Loïc Decaux, PhD, Operations & Business Strategy Risk Management Lead at Intys Partners, Guest Lecturer at LSM