Risk Management Simplified
Richard Steinberg 270004HRBG firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  risk_management | 0 Comments | 663 Visits
We know that senior executives, especially chief executive officers, look to drive their organizations’ growth initiatives. Many are hard-driving, proactive, and intently focused on doing what needed to carry out strategic plans. Optimism is a typical trait, which can be contagious in getting others in the organization to work in sync towards established goals. This is what CEOs are charged to do, and a key reason why those who do it successfully get the big bucks.
With that said, experience shows that many CEOs are not sufficiently attentive to what can go wrong – that is, what future events could keep their organizations from successfully carrying out the established initiatives. Of course many CEOs and their C-suite teams do focus on such risks, and their organizations benefit from doing so. One such company is Mazor Robotics, a medical technology company based in Israel, whose CEO Ori Hadomi recently was interviewed. He makes a number of interesting observations, one of which is especially insightful – describing risk management in a particularly understandable and compelling way. He associates risk management with ensuring there’s a devil’s advocate involved in key decision-making.
He says: “One of the most obvious mistakes we found is that too often we choose to believe in an optimistic scenario — we think too positively. Positive thinking is important to a certain extent when you want to motivate people, when you want to show them possibilities for the future. But it’s very dangerous when you plan based on that. So one of our takeaways from that was to appoint one of the executive members as a devil’s advocate.” Hadomi expands on how that works, emphasizing that the assigned executive knows the right questions, and asks them in challenging assumptions and pointing out a need to be “more humble with our assumptions.” Hadomi notes that the most surprising thing is that this devil’s advocate is the V.P. of sales for international markets: “You would expect the V.P. of sales to be pie-in-the-sky all the time. But he has a very strong, critical way of thinking, and it is so constructive,” adding that one of the pitfalls of leadership is “thinking too positively when you plan and set expectations.”
I’ve worked with many large companies, and certainly smaller company executives learn from them. But the reverse also is true. In this case, the CEO of Mazor Robotics provides useful insight into how risk management can be effectively conceptualized and applied. Of course, there’s much more to risk management, including capturing the identified risks, analyzing them, and managing them with accountability for needed actions, follow up, etc. But the concept of a devil’s advocate is powerful, especially for executives who may be struggling with what risk management is about.