How to discuss risks with decision makers
When talking about the risks in a recent Board paper with a Chief Technology Officer for a national retailer, he said something very interesting.
The risks section SHOULD make us feel uncomfortable.
If it does, then we are not only being honest but can be confident that the leadership will trust us.
His view was firmly that if we are ‘gilding the lilly' by only including the positives, then they won’t trust us and neither they should.
He said if we did that we would also let ourselves down.
We would not be demonstrating that we have thought deeply about our recommendation and how we will counter the inevitable risks we will face in delivering on our commitments within it.
If we are honest and highlight the things that are keeping us up at night and can demonstrate how well we have thought them through they will trust us more.
It will also lead to a much more robust discussion with the leaders and lead to a better outcome for the business.
Look at Mary’s example regarding the risks associated with her new talent strategy. It highlights the shift toward a powerful acknowledgement of the risks versus a ‘tick a box’ list of items to be covered.
Old version asserting that ‘all is well’ was also quite process oriented –
We will review the impact and risk associated with implementing the strategy through the agile Quarterly Business Review process.
- We are clear on the risks associated with this strategy and have plans to address
- We will track outcomes through the agile QBR process
New version with a stronger list of risks to be managed focused properly on the risks themselves while also having a clear point of view –
We have mitigations in place to minimise the risks and ensure our strategy delivers full long-term value
- Cementing SLT approval for FY21 and FY22 budget of $X m
- Working with leaders to ensure they don’t refuse to move top talent or hold onto sub part talent
- Investing in chapter leads so they can drive talent development within chapters
The difference is quite stark, isn't it?
I hope that helps.
PS – Will I see you at this week's working sessions? We have some terrific documents to work through. Got to Session Registration on the top menu to register.