Have you ever been held back, by people saying things like “that is too risky?” Has your boss ever said no to a project because they are risk averse? Have you ever wanted to do something, but found yourself second guessing yourself? Have these projects or activities been cool stuff? If you answer “yes” to any of these questions it may be time to use risk management to do cool stuff.
In my experience too many people stop projects and activities that are cool and would inspire many people to better things, because the perceived risk is too high. When referring to risk we are talking about the downside of an activity. In other words, the consequence of what happens if things go wrong.If this downside is not managed correctly then people have a right to be concerned.
I have been faced with some of these “risky” situations and my love for doing cool stuff led me to use risk management to make cool stuff happen. It is a passion of mine to seek out adventure. This does not mean that I live with a high level of risk. Yes, risk is a part of everyday life, though you cannot eliminate it, you can manage it. A risk management approach has seen me be part of youth projects in places like the Solomon Islands, Niue, Vietnam and Timor Leste. I have also personally piloted planes, being paragliding and travelled to places like Kosovo. Each of these adventures fuelled my passion (the opportunity), while I managed the risks (the downside).
So where does risk management come in?
Risk Management is a tool that can be used to manage risk and even reduce the downside consequences of a project or activity. Using risk management correctly means that you will be able to do more of the cool stuff. When workshopping or training people in risk I refer to risk management being an empowering tool that will enable us to do more of the cool stuff.
So how does this work?
Without going through the whole risk management process, imagine what would happen if we could reduce the downside risk of an activity. This would make the activity more acceptable to any approving authority. What about if you could reduce the chance that something would go wrong? Imagine if you could do both. This would lower the risk levels of the whole project or activity. I know this sounds like magic, however we do this instinctively in our daily lives. Most of us wear seat belts in the car. The reason for this is to reduce our injuries (the consequence) if we have an accident. Some may also wear seatbelts to avoid paying a fine (another consequence) if caught by police.
So in fact most of us already do risk management. Through working as a group and documenting the thought process around risk management we can come up with comprehensive risk management plans that will feed into our project or activity plans. This process will lead to procedures that while maximising opportunity (doing cool stuff), will help us to develop ways that reduce the risk of failure or develop contingency plans should the unfortunate happen.
An example of contingency planning was one of the youth projects in Solomon Islands I was involved with , through Scouting. We travelled over to Honiara about six months after riots had burnt down parts of the city. Many people thought we were crazy, however in consultation with the team and the scouting leadership we developed a set of robust contingency plans. While in the Solomon Islands we regularly used the contingency plans in the risk management plans to manage everything from leadership issues, safety challenges, medical issues and possible flight delays. In the end the project was a success and all the objectives were met.
So what are you putting off? My hope from now on when you hear the words Risk Management, you think opportunity and cool stuff, rather than termination of activities and road blocks. I look forward to hearing your awesome stories of how you managed to do cool stuff.
By Attila Ovari : Attila is a Cause & Effective Associate. He loves life and thrives on helping people become more effective leaders.