April 03, 2020

Empowering Ourselves:Risk Management Technique

Ask yourself two questions:

  1. What is my own worst-case scenario?
  2. What is within my control today to minimize future damage if the worst-case scenario occurs?

When emergencies or disasters occur, we often look to see how others are responding, then base our actions on what we see as the socially-accepted solution (hence the country-wide hoarding of toilet-paper). But what if everyone is behaving irrationally or counterproductively? Unfortunately, this is often the case in ambiguous and uncertain crisis situations. Most large-scale disasters (uncontained oil spills, nuclear disasters, the space shuttle Challenger explosion) can be traced back to crucial errors in human-judgment during early phases of decision making. 

Today, certain industries such as offshore drilling, aeronautics, and space exploration have implemented science-based risk management protocols to anticipate hazards and reduce the probability of unfortunate events. To improve our own ability to adaptively respond to the current COVID-19 crisis, we can borrow from this field of industrial risk management. 

This first requires that we bravely consider your own personal worst-case scenario. Would it be that sheltering in place goes on intermittently over the course of a year? In that case, would you lose your source of revenue? Would you have to stay home to educate your kids? Dare to consider these possibilities, acknowledging the discomfort that may arise and allowing it to be there, but maintaining a clear and practical focus on the task at hand. Once you’ve identified your problematic outcome, work backward to figure out what tasks are within our control now to contain the situation and minimize risks. Do you need to engage financial resources? Rebudget your spending? Create a new marketing strategy or develop a virtual way to offer your services? Break each of these areas down into even smaller, individual tasks so that you are not overwhelmed, and create a daily plan. To create a risk-management plan, we must accept the present as it is so that we can move forward with clarity and intent. This is a process of empowerment and practicality rather than worry and reactivity. Planning enables us to live with purpose and direction during an otherwise uncertain time. Follow your plan each day, allowing for slight daily adjustments based on updates from a trusted news source.