Reconciling your outcome picture collection with a corporate consequence scale

What to read first: Outcome pictures and consequence scales

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You have noticed a resemblance between the consequence scale you were given and the collection of outcome pictures you built from your unit’s objectives. The resemblance will be very clear if your outcomes are in a matrix format, like this example for payroll outcomes (PDF A3 landscape).

If the scale or matrix you were given had the status of an ‘example’ or an editable template to adapt, you can note with confidence, and quiet pride, that your own collection of outcome pictures is a consequence matrix that meets the purposes of the example. Even better, it can be made to look nicely similar. Unlike the corporate example, which would have been generic within the enterprise, your picture collection reflects precisely your specific unit objectives. It also represents the outcomes that have a definite value. You can re-populate the corporate template with your table of outcomes for each objective.

In ISO 31000, risk is the effect of uncertainty on objectives. In ISO 31000 the first step in the risk management process is to identify the objectives. That’s exactly what you’ve done. The outcome pictures are exactly the effects that uncertainty might have on those objectives.

If you were given a ‘standard’ scale or matrix that you are obliged to follow (without alteration) then I nevertheless urge you to stick with your own outcome picture collection for now. It is your own collection that will get you on the way to looking your boss calmly in the eye when responding to the question Have you assessed the risks to achieving this plan? The standard consequence scale is far less likely to do that.

You have my blessing to use the ‘standard’ matrix as well, to comply with any further bureaucratic requirement. You can do that after making the real decisions based on your own collection of outcome pictures. Using both versions, in that order, will be quicker than trying to get anywhere with a ‘standard’ consequence scale that doesn’t work for your unit’s objectives. If possible, submit your own version as an attachment so that the bureaucrat responsible gets at least a glimpse of contemporary risk management based on the ISO standard. (The idea of a ‘standard’ matrix comes from the 1990s. It was comprehensively superseded by ISO 31000 in 2009.)

Compromise may also be possible. Sometimes there is a standardised set of consequence ‘levels’ defined by numbers or single words such ‘minor’, ‘major’, and ‘catastrophic’, but those levels are linked to impacts that are described only loosely or as examples. You might be able to attach the ‘standard’ numbers and words to your outcome levels and use the standard numbers or words to refer to your success levels. The success level words (‘qualified success’, ‘partial success’, ‘failure’ etc.) were important during the building of your outcome picture collection. After the collection is built, they are less important, because the success and failure pictures should be clear enough on their own.

Parent articles

Outcome pictures and consequence scales

An outcome picture collection can look like a standard consequence matrix. There are fundamental differences between an outcome picture collection and a standard consequence matrix.

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Main article on Risk in work unit business planning

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