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Blog: Risky business

Whether it is a new piece of health & safety legislation coming in, funding issues for your NHS Trust, developing new financial services for the market or managing new vehicle emissions testing, any new activity brings an element of risk to your organisation. For each of those listed probably we could all think of examples in current or recent media where the change has led to headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Whatever the discipline these scenarios all have one other thing in common apart from the bad press. Someone within the organisation has tried to convince his / her senior management team that the risk was not worth taking, and failed to get their point across. Once the disaster has played out across the front pages and all the hand wringing has stopped, people always look to learn lessons from the failure and, without exception, warning signs are uncovered and the question becomes: Why did we not take action when we could?

At a decision point, often in a board room there is a fork in the road and we have a choice – to accept a risk or to mitigate it. If you read the stories of those who tried to influence those decisions, people like Paul Moore or John Breit in the Financial sector or Allan J. McDonald from the supply chain to NASA’s Challenger programme the message is the same. The risk was identified and presented to key players at their organisations but was overruled.

In a presentation at the IIRSM and Health & Safety at Work Conference on the 11th February I will be discussing the role of the risk leader and how to get your message across to a busy board under the heading ‘Risky Business’ and touching briefly on developing the skills needed to deliver tough messages and keep your organisation off the front pages.

If you have just one take away that helps you pitch your ideas better then investment of your time will be well spent.

PAUL SIMPSON
HEAD OF QUALITY, NETWORK RAIL
COUNCIL MEMBER, IIRSM

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