If you manage an Indigenous organisation as a CEO or a Senior Manager of a unit, or if you have oversight as it's Chairperson, you probably have some concern in the back of your mind about some of the risks you face.
You can probably cope with some of the small things like a computer crash or the loss of a staff member, even if you had not prepared beforehand.
These are things you can work on as they happen, even if it is a bit inefficient, and could involve some delay or disruption to operations.
In January we read about it appearing overseas.
"A bit like SARS," we thought, "No holidays in Asia for me for a while."
By early March it was concerning Australia. The effects in Europe were worrying.
Within a few weeks at the end of March, the Prime Minister was cautioning us as to some sensible precautions, but he was still going to the footy that weekend.
Within days, he was no longer going to the game. He was suggesting social-distancing. Within a few more days, we were in lockdown, borders were closing, and businesses were shutting and workers (those who had not been stood down) were working from home.
How prepared were you in that short week?
That is one example of a risk-event that seemed so unlikely yet had such catastrophic consequences - but there are others that could happen and have similarly serious consequences for your corporation.
What happens if your auditor, conducting the usual end-of-year standard audit suddenly discovers massive fraud that had been carrying on for years and totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars?
What happens if a natural disaster - a fire or cyclone - rips through your premises, even with nobody in it, but destroys your office, computer systems, equipment, records and infrastructure?
What happens if you suddenly lose an organisational or community leader through a tragedy? What was in his or her mind? Who will step up? How long will the succession take before stability is attained?
Our problem when we are in charge of a busy organisation is that most of our daily attention is taken up by daily issues. Projects at hand, proposals to prepare, staff unhappiness about something small.
These are the loud problems that take our attention.
Those hidden dangers that seem so unlikely are the ones we have in the back of our mind, but seem so distant there's time to deal with them later.
As COVID-19 showed us, sometimes there is no "later."
When we assess risk, we analyse it as to the likelihood of it happening, as well as the consequences if it does.
A pandemic, a severe natural disaster, a death, massive fraud, these all seem quite unlikely and that is probably why people feel they can leave them until "later."
However, they all have severe consequences - sometimes enough to close the organisation forever. Having such severe consequences, even if they are relatively unlikely, make them extreme-level risks.
The solution is to be prepared.
To be fair, you cannot be prepared for every eventuality.
After all, who predicted a global pandemic with such severe consequences?
However, if you had prepared a Risk Management Plan, you may well have considered and analysed a risk such as a natural disaster that would have had similar strategies for mitigation and workable contingency plans.
An organisation that had done this would have rolled out its office emergency closure procedures, it would have had laptops available for key staff and remote communication protocols in place.
They would not have been reacting to the cyclone that they actually prepared for, but those strategies would have worked for COVID-19 just as well.
A Risk Management Plan allows you to identify all types of risks from strategic risks to compliance risks, to operational risks, to financial risks and to reputational risks.
The process would have identified the different types of consequences including health and safety, people and culture, service or operations, financial implications, efficiency, and reputation.
What's most important, however, is that after identifying all your risks, a Risk Management Plan then prioritises them according to the likelihood as well as the severity of consequences. In this way, time and resources are appropriately allocated to the most urgent risks first.
A Risk Management Plan also allows you to - in advance - plan ways to reduce the likelihood of something happening by avoiding, reducing or transferring the risk.
A Risk Management Plan also identifies those risks that require contingency plans so that you can prepare them in advance, ready to pull from the shelves and activate when the time arises.
The preparation of a Risk Management Plan in advance of catastrophe means that you spend less time and lose less efficiency whenever something happens.
It doesn't take you a lot of time to prepare or to manage. In fact, that's the whole point - in the bigger picture a Risk Management Plan saves you time.
It certainly saves you constant worry.
You can prepare your own Risk Management Plan in 6 easy to follow steps:-
Step 1 Identify the risks
Step 2 Assess the risks
Step 3 Map the risks on a Risk Matrix
Step 4 Create strategies to manage the risks
Step 5 Manage the Risk Management Plan
Step 6 Monitor, Test and Evaluate
You can get our Whitepaper called Understanding & Managing Risk In An Indigenous Organisation to read about the step-by-step process and how to do it.
It is important that you set aside time and budget to prepare a Risk Management Plan and get yourself ready.
However, it need not take a lot of time nor money to prepare yours.
OTS Management has prepared a self-guided online program called Risk Management Planning for Indigenous Organisations. You don't need to hire a consultant - you can follow the step-by-step process yourself in a clear, guided set of modules starting from scratch.
It contains 20 "lessons" organised within 4 modules that follow the step-by-step process. These lessons provide online training on how to prepare the information and make the decisions in each step of the process and provide downloadable worksheets at each step to provide the documentation for the Plan. It also provides template to prepare your Risk Management Plan, a Crisis Plan, and a Recovery Plan.
We believe you can prepare your Risk Management Plan in two days.
Here's what it contains:-
- Introduction to the Program
- Introduction for Workshop Facilitators
- Snapshot - Understanding Risk Management Planning
- Risk Management - The Basics
- Introduction to the Risk Matrix
- Snapshot - Analysing Risks
- Identifying Risks
- Analysing Risks
- Populating the Risk Matrix
- Strategies to Manage Risk
- Snapshot - Risk Management Strategies
- Immediate Action Strategies
- Rigorously Manage & Monitor Strategies
- Manage & Monitor Strategies
- Accept But Monitor Strategies
- Snapshot - Managing Risk Management Plans
- Documenting Your Risk Management Plan
- Testing Your Risk Management Plan
- Monitoring and Evaluation
- Bonus - Crisis Plan Template
- Bonus - Recovery Plan Template
- Bonus - Resource List
As the Chairperson, CEO or Unit manager in an Indigenous corporation you should be aware of the risks your organisation face - and you should fully recognise the consequences.