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Over the years our template evolved. Some changes resulted from observations made by facilitators. Others came from participants, either during workshops or from periodic global surveys.

During a workshop, facilitators attempt to limit the number of risks and risk treatments to 10 to 15 each (as many as 20 for very large units). However, having so many risks and risk treatments can lead to clarity without perspective.

The initial template simply listed risks and risk treatments in two columns, without referencing which risk treatments applied to the individual risks. The ERM team found that referencing the risk(s) that the individual risk treatments addressed provided better clarity as to the process. Furthermore, this approach helped to better identify the most critical risks and risk treatments. To leverage this opportunity, participants had to identify the three or four most critical risks, defined as those most likely to adversely impact the initiative. They did the same for the three or four most critical risk treatments (i.e., those most likely to lead to success). This led to more robust voting, as participants had a perspective on the impact and likelihood that the most critical risk would occur, as well as the effectiveness of the most critical risk treatments in aiding the team to achieve its objectives.

Initially, when units identified key actions that they believed would increase the likelihood of success, they were included in the summary reports. However, the ERM team discovered that the failure to assign accountability for the activity frequently led to it not getting done. (I have heard this same issue arise in other companies' programs.) Consequently, an "Action Plan" section was added to the bottom of the template. This improved the results; however, in one workshop the unit asked if they could assign each risk treatment to an individual. This worked very well.

Through experimentation it was found that adding both a responsible party and a completion date added to the robustness of the process. Typically, units would assign the tasks to either management team members or their direct reports. This helped identify situations where one associate or group had too many activities to address properly those things needed to achieve an initiative's objectives. More important, as the workshop progressed through the day, it frequently became clear that a unit might not have the bandwidth to complete all of their tasks in the time frame allotted. This led to changing deadlines and moving resources around the business in order to improve the likelihood of successfully achieving both individual initiatives as well as overall operating plan objectives. Exhibit 3.6 shows how a completed template from a workshop would appear.

Mars ERM Template

Exhibit 3.6 Mars ERM Template

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