Objective-achievement consequence scale: how I propose it

What to read first: Risk impact scale vs. achievement of objectives Comparison of the how-to guide with typical corporate prescriptions

Seen it all: This page assumes you know risk terms and concepts. It includes references to standards.

Here’s an example of an objective-achievement matrix (for a hypothetical government organisation).


Level of achievement at the end of the planning year



→ Worst

Deliver services meeting customer expectations in the area of ….

There was a demonstrated overall improvement in customer services over the planning period.

Essential services were maintained over the period, showing steady measures with minor exceptions.

The mission was basically fulfilled, with some shortfalls of concern to key stakeholders.

There were extended failures of the essential service.

Long term unavailability of essential service with broader social consequences.

Maintain capacity to respond to future demands.

The organisation is now well placed to meet future demands, including special or unique capacity to deal with ….

From now, services can continue for 2-3 years, however, significant new capital investment will be needed to assure capacity beyond that.

As of now, there is an immediate need for re-investment and rectification to maintain capacity

Capability could collapse at any time.

Manage finances responsibly.

The organisation has been a model of financial management, including assured sustainability and capital planning for 5 years out from now.

Financial results have been acceptable, with no specific alarms about sustainability. There are still some weak areas subject to remediation.

Stakeholders have continuing concerns about a pattern of spending apparently poorly linked to budgets and planning. Special external scrutiny arrangements have been implemented.

Stakeholders perceived gross mismanagement of finances, which led to a substantial loss of financial autonomy for the organisation.

Retain public confidence and trust.

Organisation is widely regarded as the leading player in important service categories, likely to be involved in any new services in those areas.

The organisation is accepted as the appropriate provider of the current range of services. There may be some queries about details.

The organisation is seen as under-performing and unattractive to customers. Perception that irregularities are relatively widespread.

Confidence in the organisation has been permanently destroyed as a result of a scandal or systematic legal breach.

Health and Wellbeing
Avoid causing injury and disease.

Health and wellbeing outcomes have been clearly better than industry norms.

Health and wellbeing impacts have been within desirable norms for the industry.

There was a serious injury/illness, or multiple cases of lesser injuries/illnesses.

There was a death or permanent disability, or multiple cases of serious injury/illness.

There have been multiple cases of death or permanent disability.

Security and Privacy
Protect privacy and security of information.

There has been highly assured protection of information.

There were no significant privacy and security exceptions. Protections have been reasonably assured, with some elements inferred rather than demonstrated.

There was a pattern of minor security and privacy exceptions within industry norms. Protections have been basically in order with some weakness subject to remediation.

Security and privacy protections have been inadequate. Stakeholders have regularly suffered inconvenience or worse from isolated privacy failures. Avoiding multiple major breaches was a matter of luck.

There was a major spill event with widespread stakeholder harm, reflecting organisational mismanagement of security and privacy, or an intentional breach of trust.

The objectives focus on the core mission of the organisation. Other objectives capture the potential for unintentional harm from pursuing that mission. There are separate scales for each objective. The matrix is not ‘a scale’, but a collection of scales. Not all scales have the same number of achievement levels. Columns do not have any label representing a ‘level’ of achievement or consequence, because there is no equivalence or comparison across different objectives. Column labels could be added for administrative convenience. Adding labels would not by itself create ‘consequence levels’ common across different objectives.

In the pure objective-achievement approach, the risk consequence scale will show pictures of each of your objectives achieved. The pictures will show how the world looks the end of the planning period, or perhaps at the target times for achieving each objective.

For each objective, there are pictures ranging from ‘exceeding expectations’, through ‘planned achievement’, to the worst imaginable result of things going badly wrong. The pictures can be arranged in a matrix format. The matrix has objectives on one axis, and levels of objective achievement on the other. The ‘pictures’ may be numerical measures. Word pictures, in the form of success and failure scenarios, will have more persuasive power.

There is no intervening ‘impact’ to be categorised or measured on a scale. Unlike ‘impacts’ that are assumed to have an effect on objectives, the pictures are the effect on the objectives. Generic categories such as finance, reputation and safety might be used, but not as ‘impact’ types. They are used at an earlier stage, as objective types.

The risk consequence is how the world looks at the end of the period, or at the end of the activity, whichever is the subject of risk assessment. ‘Risks’ are anything that can change how the world turns out, relative to the objectives. Therefore, ‘risks’ clearly include controllable factors such as choosing the wrong strategy, along with uncontrollable events and faulty assumptions. ‘Risks’ may also exclude surprises that have only temporary effects, from which recovery is assured.

Consequences matched to different objectives are not necessarily equivalent, nor necessarily even compared. Risk acceptance is the acceptance that an objective will be achieved to a level depicted on the objective achievement scale, with a particular assessed likelihood. Objective achievement is not a number. Achievement of each objective is important in its own degree and in its own way. Deviations from planned achievement are also important in their own degrees and for their own reasons.


Previous article for Specialists

Generic consequence scale: how I understand it

Risk specialists Version 3.0 Beta

Parent articles

Comparison of the how-to guide with typical corporate prescriptions

The guide differs from typical corporate prescriptions in these ways: Objectives Consequence measures Likelihood measures Level of risk Risk register Overall risk view Negative and positive risk

Risk specialists Version 3.0 Beta

Main article on Risk in work unit business planning

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