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Transcend the usual: how to redefine risk management

One of the central principles of the Anticipatory Organization model is to move beyond the idea of mere competition. By that, I mean going past the idea of measuring your organization’s success and performance against others.

Instead, set your own standards through transformational planning and ongoing innovation. In so doing, you redefine the concept of risk management.

Risk management redefined

No matter its core philosophy, every organization recognizes that an element of risk is necessary for success. That’s particularly true when it comes to innovation; risk is an imperative in a constantly transforming environment.

When a new product or service is developed and introduced, it goes without saying that there’s risk involved. You most likely spend an exorbitant amount of time asking: Will the new product work as we hoped? How will consumers react to this new type of service?

Although organizations of all sorts acknowledge that risk comes with the territory, that’s not to say they’re all that comfortable with it. To that end, many organizations look to minimize risk by avoiding it as much as possible. That’s misguided in several ways.

Two reasons to face risk head on

First, by avoiding risks, many organizations effectively limit the sorts of significant opportunities that naturally mandate a degree of risk-taking.

Further, risk can be effectively anticipated and managed by using several elements of the Anticipatory Organization model. In effect, you can completely redefine risk management and move forward with great confidence and certainty.

The strategy: hard and soft trends

It’s a basic truth that can’t be disputed: strategy based on uncertainty has high risk. On the other hand, strategy based on certainty has low risk.

That starts with identifying both hard trends—those things we know for certain will occur in the future—and soft trends, which are future maybes, open to influence.

Let’s map out a scenario along those lines. Let’s say you want to develop a smart watch, an area that’s already overloaded with both ideas and competitors. On the surface, that would seem a very high-risk venture.

But you can leverage hard trends to better manage that risk.

For instance, it’s a definite hard trend that people are living longer and longer. And as they do, the need for comprehensive, responsive health care is also growing—yet another hard trend.

By the same token, there’s the soft trend of patient loads increasing at hospitals around the country—a soft trend in that there’s no certainty that this will continue, although it’s highly likely.

Ambulances can now transmit patient data en route to the hospital. What about designing a smart watch that does this for patients who need to go to the hospital but don’t require an ambulance? The app could transmit blood pressure, blood oxygen levels and other vitals on the way.

That type of solution addresses several needs. Not only does it offer a reliable means of monitoring and sharing patient data, but medical staff looking to manage patient flow more efficiently would already have critical data in hand even before the patient arrived at the hospital.

It also effectively reduces the risk associated with introducing a new product into an already-crowded marketplace.

The result: a new form of risk management

As our example illustrates, leveraging hard and soft trends to your advantage mitigates the risk that many organizations consider a deal killer when it comes to innovation.

Using both kinds of trends allows you to disrupt with low risk—or at least much lower risk—uncovering opportunities that allow your organization to leap far ahead.

Ultimately, these are critical elements of your ability to accelerate innovation, manage risk at a much higher level, and actively shape the future.

Eager for more insights? Find them in my new book, The Anticipatory Organization, now available on Amazon.com.


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