Risk Insider: Grace Crickette

Waging War & the Sheathed Sword

By: | September 17, 2014

Grace Crickette, a leader in enterprise risk management, is special administrator, Finance and Administration for San Francisco State University. She can be reached at [email protected]

This is the second chapter in Grace Crickette’s series of posts focused on how to gracefully bring together traditional risk management, change management techniques and enterprise risk management concepts by using phrases and tactics to develop strategies devised by Sun Tzu, a Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher.

MAKE ERM, NOT WAR

rainbow peace sign copyChapter II: On Waging War (Pick Your Battle) and Chapter III: The Sheathed Sword (Offensive Strategy)

Chapters II and III of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War are about knowing who is with you and who is against you. War among friends? The implementation of your program is the war and the best place to pick your first battle (implementing change) is with those who are for you and who want what the program will deliver.

A theme that is embedded in virtually every other theme of the Art of War, especially in regard to knowing self and opposition, is the importance of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.

These are borne from asking questions and listening. When implementing ERM, it is critical to spend time meeting with people in the organization, but not talking about ERM. Rather, focus on listening to their issues and problems. Inquire, listen and acknowledge, but don’t solve. Walk away and study the issues before returning with a plan as to how an ERM program can be a tool for the owner of the risk.

Who will we engage with first? Can we identify a quick win?

These are the first questions to ask and answer when choosing your first battle. Even if you have a mandate from the Board to implement ERM, you will still face resistance. You need to be able to evidence value and to do that you need to deliver results in a timely fashion. Choose to implement ERM activities with those who have indicated an interest and to which the activity will deliver measurable results.

Example: Complete a risk registry with an ERM approach that can be part of a business plan used to support a budget request for a department. An ERM risk registry does not have to “boil the ocean”; it can be completed down at even a project level. This approach can yield a quick win that you can communicate to others to gain further support.

Who will be against us? What will they do/say and how will we counter?

Prior to even starting your first battle (implementation), brainstorm with others on who might be against you and what they will say. A productive way to do this is to prepare and publish a Q&A document. Think of all the questions and challenges that those who might not embrace the program will make and develop responses. This exercise will benefit your program several ways:

  • It will punch holes in your program and prompt you to make needed improvements.
  • It will win over doubters by evidencing that the program is sound and has value.
  • For those that may never buy-in, it will evidence that you are a worthy opponent and possibly not worth their time (they can move onto weaker opponents).

Key Takeaway: Listen and learn from others before you ask them to participate in your ERM program. Know who, where and what to first implement. Prepare for those who will be resistant.

Remember — it’s not Risk Management, it’s Change Management!

Read all of Grace Crickette’s Risk Insider articles.

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