Decisive final steps: Taking action

To the extent that you are relying on controls, you ensure that those controls really work. Confidence comes from always knowing that those controls are in place. After all of that, you will definitely be ready to look the boss in the eye over the business plan. You can maintain the outcome pictures and their likelihoods as the focus of conversations with the boss through the year. You review can and maintain the risk collection at the same time.

What to read first: Next steps: How your unit might not deliver the outcomes

New to this: This series assumes you have no prior knowledge. It does not use technical terms without explaining them first.

To the extent that you are relying on controls, you ensure that those controls really work. Confidence comes from always knowing that those controls are in place.

Controls are measures you put in place to change the risk to achieving your objectives. ‘Controls’ can be at a high managerial level, for instance choosing unit strategies only in structured consultation with stakeholders. ‘Controls’ can also be buried deeply into policies, operational routines, or an automated system. Controls of any kind always have some sort of cost. That cost may be in lost opportunities and reduced performance, as much as in dollars. But the risk-changing benefit may be essential, so that omitting certain controls would be rightly seen as negligent.

For controls that you consider essential, you might set up accountability and monitoring. One way or another, you need to be sure they are working at all times, which also means you will know immediately if any of them cease to work as you assumed.

After all of that, you will definitely be ready to look the boss in the eye over the business plan.

Having taken all those steps, you will be ready to explain the basis for confidence in the business plan. You will know that the objectives to which your unit strives are the right ones. You will know why the objectives have a good chance of being achieved. You will know why you cannot guarantee achieving them.

You will understand the exposure to unintended disasters, and whether anything needs to be done to further reduce that exposure.

You will discuss all of these assurances, and concerns, with poise and confidence.

If your confident delivery is not convincing, you will show the record of the process you went through. You will share your confidence.

Almost certainly, there will be some points of discomfort to work through with the boss, confidently poised as you are. You may need to negotiate expectations, or recommend actions to be taken outside your unit.

In the most extreme case, the best way forward might be a substantial change to your unit’s role, goals, and strategies. Changes as big as that will need your boss and may involve a wider group of senior managers. But the result of senior management consideration may be no change in your unit. Ultimately the organisation might decide that the risk in your unit is acceptable for the greater good, with or without actions to be taken elsewhere to limit the exposure.

What has changed is that you will have made it clear that you cannot guarantee the preferred outcome, and that disappointments can happen. You will have set out the reasons in advance.

If you and the boss are never going to make eye contact, or even see eye to eye, you will be as confident as you could ever have been. You will know that you understand the uncertainties that are involved in the next year of your employment. That will give you your best opportunity to protect your own future.

You can maintain the outcome pictures and their likelihoods as the focus of conversations with the boss through the year. You review can and maintain the risk collection at the same time.

By maintaining the written record of the risk process, you can always know that you unit’s risk is under control. Documenting the risk work means you can both know it and show it.

Your management process creates a risk based outcomes forecast for the year. The risk based outcomes forecast ties together in a single view planned results, performance, risk, and prospects for the unit.


Previous article for Managers

Next steps: How your unit might not deliver the outcomes

‘A risk’ is one pathway by which something unpredictable could cause the year-end reality to match a picture that doesn’t show planned success. You need to find those pathways to outcomes other than success. Call these pathways ‘risks’. Each pathway (risk) has a likelihood you can estimate. You also estimate the likelihood of year-end reality matching each outcome picture. The likelihood of each outcome reflects the total of the likelihoods for all ‘risks’ (pathways) leading to that outcome. The likelihoods of each of the outcomes for an objective must total 100%. You then note the outcomes with acceptable and unacceptable likelihoods. Where the likelihood of an outcome is not clearly acceptable, you decide what to do about it.

New to this: This series assumes you have no prior knowledge. It does not use technical terms without explaining them first.

Index to the topic Risk in work unit business planning

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