Qui bono (Who benefits?)- Is your corporate resilience more about personalities than real threats?


The sky is falling!

The vast majority of companies, regardless of what they themselves believe, are significantly influenced in their resilience planning by the personalities that represent the process. Whether it is a sole champion or a department that is charged with the enterprise resilience strategy and execution of planning, it is most likely that their personal passions, skills, experience or even comprehension will dominate the overall corporate preparedness and response to actual threats. This phenomena is further compounded by the degree of humility or hubris of these executors and their ability to assimilate, even in the wake of such shortfalls, to rapidly and effectively respond to such oversights. Regrettably, it is often all too late to change at the 11th hour and many of the failing are dismissed/justified by environment, market forces, mother nature or just bad luck. Not the root cause. Sizeable amounts of money is lost, unrealized or expended on unnecessary opportune cost daily or annually as a result.

The scope and demands of modern and dynamic corporates, especially multinational or geographically dispersed entities, is by no means an easy task. A vast amount of knowledge and planning may be required and then resources/strategies applied to areas that warrant countermeasures/treatment solutions that then must be simplified or distilled for consumption and action by numerous stakeholders or line managers. Limited scope, ego, protectionism, arrogance, incompetence, budget constraints and many other issues act in unison to prevent a less than optimum result for all involved. The most resilient companies and the most efficient departments acknowledge all these issues and build such human failings and influences into the methodology to achieve superior results. Paradoxically, these companies are often the most competitive companies also thanks to this vision and forethought.

If this were not challenging enough, the character, charisma, communications skills or business acumen of the lead/executive representative of such functions could signal the final success or failure of all the accumulated work conducted that comes to then convincing the CEO/COO/CFO that a particular threat is credible or a specific investment is necessitated on the strength of the threat and the potential impact if left unchecked. Should they be found wanting, the threat remains unchecked. The squeaky wheel gets the oil!

Financial management has moved past this similar challenge (for the most part) by means of audits, internal checks, disclosure, review or external validation of findings. Risk management, of a non-financial nature, has a long way to go before such approaches become mainstream.

Resilience is based on a comprehensive understanding of all the assets/investments/capital at risk. Qualifying and quantifying the threats and the residual risk present; once current and proposed mitigation/treatment/corrective measures are implemented. A subsequent project plan based on budgets, tolerances, practicalities, strategies and threats is then initiated. None of this is possible or conducted until executive or leadership elements are consulted, convinced and contribute to the outcome, not retrospectively. The sheer diversity and complications of modern and fast paced business operations mandates that this process be a team sport and a collaborative approach.

If you have never met your risk manager, or contributed to the demand or have no budget for such measures, you are part of the problem and less a part of the solution and remain symptomatic of this chronic disease.

Like all addictions or dependency behavior, the first step in breaking the cycle begins with asking yourself some fairly honest and confronting questions. If you can’t affect change then you need help, not time, but actionable collaboration. If not, are you merely a wolf in sheep’s clothing, only to be discovered when most needed?

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About Tony Ridley
Travel health, safety, security and risk management expert.

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