The Risk Management Fable


There are people who seem to live in panic mode. For them, the sky is always falling. They live with “Chicken Little” syndrome and fear that the sky is about to hit them in the head. The slightest distraction at work sends them into a panic and they go running around infecting others with a sense of panic. Success seems to come for the Chicken Little only after others join in the sense of panic, and they also become infected with the same sense of panic and start sharing urgent Chicken Little to run off and do something. That’s when Chicken Little forms a committee and they all march off to tell the king that the sky is falling.

If you are a manager of Chicken Little, you need to learn to distinguish between real problems and imaginary problem and you need to find a way to stop these disruptive organizational panic attack. Of course, if the sky were falling it would be good to know, but is this the way you want to control the problem? It will help if there is no one on your staff as “Henny Penny” or “Lucky Ducky” also have become standing members of your “Falling sky is” committed. It is never good for a company to have its employees work in panic mode, especially when serious problems to come by.

Chicken Little is a man on a team that has a tendency to panic at all. He thinks constantly having to call an emergency meeting, every action must be taken outside the normal process and each one needs to stop what they are doing and join Chicken Little to imagine what will happen when the sky falls. We have to fix this now … now … now … Chicken Little syndrome thrives on chaos. “There is no time to do things properly.” “We just have to get it done now … now … now …” “We can do it the right way next time!” You can not take the time to follow the process when the sky is falling! Damn bureaucracy, it’s time to jump into the water and start swimming! Even if the problem is serious, this is really the way you want to manage your business?

Running from one chaotic situation to another can become a culture of business. Remember, though, in this fable sky is not really falling. Fear of what might happen to take control of all types. “A customer came with a problem and what happens if the others come across the same problem!” “Maybe we should stop production and go take care of the problem, instead of introducing a new competitive changes the customer is asking for.” The acorn that hit Chicken Little in the head may have done more damage than we originally thought! Chicken Little does not distinguish between big problems and small children, and before you realize it even a little problem caused the team to lose concentration.

When you feel you have setup a panic attack, you’re better off sticking with a trusted process, not abandon them. You may find out the sky really is falling and the water is not as deep as it seems, but it’s also a chance that you have identified a significant problem. It’s time to avoid panic and make a calm decision will affect the problem and how to solve it. And all businesses that can and do go awry. If the problem seems to have fallen from the sky and you were caught off guard by it, you need to start asking some questions about your activities. The process you should have had in place before hand is a proactive risk management process. Many companies (and not all of them are low) failure to perform risk self-assessment that could improve their chances of staying ahead of problems. Chicken Little may have got it wrong but at least he was looking for a problem. Each company is required to perform the functions of risk self-assessment at least annually. In my work I hear regular customers say “I saw the signs, but I just was not paying attention to them.” Perhaps now is the time to give Chicken Little bit of credit but just walk not panic …

Instead of running around and calls a meeting of “The Sky is Falling” team, an effective risk management process will allowing you to identify potential risks, whether they are just Acorn or sky really is falling and make a plan to avoid or reduce risks. Remember though that Chicken Little was not to deal with risks. He was dealing with a problem. “The sky is falling, the sky is falling, it hit me in the head.” If the sky is falling when it is too late to prevent problems. At that point, the risk has already been realized. To be of help, Chicken Little needs to identify potential problems before it happened. A risk that the event will occur in the future that could have a negative impact on your business. Chicken Little required to yell “The sky could fall ,. The sky could fall” But think of the advantage would give the company … Considering something was going to happen in the future that could cause the acorn to fall (it’s wind storm predicted for tomorrow) does Chicken Little had not yet felt the impact to his skull, the danger could be avoided or reduced. Chicken Little could avoid walking under oak tree or wear a hat in the wind. In both cases would no longer need for panic. The risk would be proactively identified and expected problem in time to prevent or reduce it

The moral of the story (each illustration has at least one) is. if your organization has someone with Chicken Little syndrome, anxiety turn their assets by managing them in useful activities such as risk management, wear a hat when you walk under the oak tree, and (most of all) perform the functions of the risk management process, which calls for an annual assessment. And one final note. The reason I hear most often from customers that they submit annual assessment is that they just can not afford to take time. Really! Risk improves the sustainability of the company. Unless you’re afraid of what is found (ostrich syndrome!), Or your business has never a problem, how can you afford not to evaluate business phone?


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