“An informed [risk] culture is one in which people, at all levels, do not forget to be afraid”
Professor James Reason
Every enterprise involves risk, yet very few organisations practice robust risk management. Most organisations spend a disproportionate amount of time identifying, assessing and recording risks, but few consistently follow this through into active, robust and measurable risk management actions. There is, therefore, a frequent and potentially catastrophic disconnect between the risk perspective of the board of directors and the operational reality of the business. Often businesses get away with it, generally because they are inherently risk averse. But every so often – in fact with alarmingly regularity – disaster does strike.
Disaster strikes in many guises – consider the global financial crash of 2008, the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010, the Costa Concordia sinking of 2012 or the Tesco accounting scandal of 2014. But whatever its nature, the underlying causes are always the same: a corporate failure of memory and imagination. People forget how things were intended to work, they stop noticing how things have changed, and lose sight of what the consequences of these deviations and changes might be.
The solution is not a new software system, more audit or revised policies. Yet after a disaster or near disaster these are often what organisations reach for because they feel tangible. The answer, though, is to look at the least tangible thing of all: the culture. Which first and foremost means looking at the questions that leaders ask, because workers the world over focus on what their boss demonstrates he or she is interested in. Because nothing says ‘important’ like what the boss is constantly asking about.
So when a fund manager overvalues a bundle of sub-prime mortgages or a technician skips a few procedural steps or a ship’s captain cuts a nautical corner or an accountant tweaks a payment schedule, he or she is responding to the prevailing risk management culture. That is, they are giving the boss what they think they want. And because every reporting line starts and finishes in the board room, every risk management decisions relates back to the questions the CEO asks.
This is the starting premise for my work with organisations. Whether you are looking to:
- increase the robustness and resilience of your risk management system;
- improve your overall risk governance and oversight;
- raise the profile or capability in a specific area such as process safety, corporate responsibility or project risk management;
- develop a new or enhance your existing risk framework; or
- simply get reassurance that your existing systems are working for you
I offer an holistic bespoke solution founded on 20 years operational experience working for some of the world’s biggest and most complex high-hazard organisations. It is this unique blend of leadership development and risk consultancy expertise alongside first-hand knowledge of what it is like to lead and influence within high- hazard, high-profile organisations that allows me to support your from the board room down to the operational front line. Furthermore you can be assured that the solutions and interventions we co-create will be grounded in the reality of every-day business life, not academic research or theoretical, idealised models. I’ll help you develop the cultural solutions and behaviours that fit your unique organisation and that will underpin everything else that you do.
“Martin is an impassioned practitioner in risk governance that we’ve had the pleasure to work with. With deep experience of risk and opportunity management in utilities and the consulting sector, Martin really understands what Boards need to know about risk to effect control and to ensure their business is both resilient and open to strategic opportunity.”
Simon Pollard, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Cranfield University
“Martin’s knowledge, experience and personal tenacity were key to leading the development of Engineering Risk Management ”
John Glasgow, MD, Sterling Power Utilities