The turmoils of turning 50 felt like I had grabbed the stem of my life’s hour glass and flipped it on end. Conscious of the falling grains of time I have found myself asking, “What is at the core of what I do?”, sometimes there is the variant, “What have I done for the greatest good?”.
On the odd night the questions get a bit harder. For example, what is the point of spending twenty five years involved with disaster management? What problem does my particular solution solve or do I just contribute to the white noise of general management? Why is it that disasters still happen?
A great deal of my activities have been spent communicating what risk might mean to an organization. Rather than just list activities at risk, I find out what could really cause the business loss, if you like the, “So What?” question. With every tool at my disposal from impact analyses, system design, training, scenario planning, exercising, coaching and mentoring, I aim to help my client understand the realistic likelihood and nature of the impact of threats on them as individuals, company officers, projects and organisations.
Somebody suggested to me last week that in todays organisations where so much has been outsourced or contracted out, a key function of the modern corporation is to risk manage all the work they are doing. He’s not wrong and more companies are doing it. Commerce and the sheepish public sector are treading reluctantly in their footsteps and seem to be growing in the false belief their risks have also been outsourced or contracted out. Newsflash, you can’t outsource responsibility for managing risk.
As I mentioned, we get more contemplative as we get older. Organizations however, are not the same. Some, overpopulated by a community of LinkedIn career clamberers, have lost all organizational memory in the slashing of budgets and resources to pay for the next round of projects and shiny things. The resultant organizational dementia can continue for years, stripping out knowledge and vitality as career climbers capture their stays, one thumb drive at a time.
I have a reputation for having a bull dog style bite that does not let go of nagging doubts and fears. I keep my attention on any loose thread or vagary until it is resolved to the clients satisfaction. It is a constant creative battle to find the approach, language, tools and tone to dismantle what may be a precarious dam of complacency and replace it with clear, simple and rehearsed measures to manage the risks being faced. Fighting this creative battle is the core of what I do.