The worst time to mitigate a crisis is when you’re in the middle of one. Leaders think their greatest purpose is to rush into battle with their teams to work tirelessly at all costs and celebrate surviving another day. While those leaders seem like heroes that live in the glory of their team seeing them as a great leader, I challenge you to rethink what true C-Suite leadership should be. It is the patient leader who discusses risk everyday and collaborates with their team to identify ways to reduce risk as part of daily work that should be the leaders worth following. When we have the time to methodically identify, qualify, prioritize and set a course for action during a time of calm will assure the business can respond responsibly to a crisis vs. react and be part of the crisis. 

Having been caught off guard during a crisis in a past role, all I could do was organize my team to react based on predefined protocols. We followed the protocols and came out of them with a few battle scars. And I wondered, how could this have happened despite what we thought were all the controls to avoid a crisis. We only were able to detect and then seek to contain. Given my overwhelming exhaustion from such an experience, I later found a better way and I have to say the ISO 9001 Standard for quality management systems provided me guidance on how to be a proactive leader vs. a reactive one. 

The new version of the standard which came out in 2015 was rooted in Risk Based Thinking and how to identify risks in all areas of the business both internally and external factors that opened my eyes up on a better way of leadership. Combining this with my Continuous Improvement Methodology, I developed a best practice for Mitigating risk in your business. The ISO auditor when we showed the approach was astonished at our approach and had nothing more to offer except validating it was a best practice and the company truly understood what it meant to manage risk. 

I have the template to share with you if you want and I’d be happy to go through it with you if you think it will help your organization. Connect with me and let’s have a conversation. 

If you would like to do it yourself, here is the framework: 

  • Invite every functional area to the conversation: Sales, Operations, Finance, IT, Regulatory, Quality, Supply Chain, HR, Security. You would be surprised how many risks can be identified no matter how obscure. 
  • Identify the risks – short term and anything that could happen in a 2-5 year horizon
  •  Categorize them into people, process, platforms, regulatory, compliance, safety – any category that makes sense to your business. It enables what will be an overwhelming list to sort and manage different workstreams and simplify the work. 
  • Rank them based on Severity & Occurrence. This is typically done on a scale of 1-10, but can be as simply as High, Medium and Low. A bonus would be a ranking of Detection which is the ability of your systems to detect the issue before it becomes a crisis. You can have a super high risk, but if you have an extraordinary detection system, the risk can be mitigated. Finally multiply all three numbers to get a final score; often referred to as RPN or Risk Priority Number. 
  • Sort the priorities – you can do the entire list or do it within the individual categories. This reduces the overwhelm and helps the team to focus on the critical few and plan for lower priorities in the future 
  • Take action – including assigning an specific action, assign an owner, due date and status. 
  • Re-evaluate on a quarterly or semi-annual basis. This is a living document that should regularly be reviewed to assure we are mitigating risk and add new ones as they arise. 

So there you have it: Invite, Identify, Categorize, Rank, Sort, Action, Re-evaluate. Sounds simple? It can be, but I’m right here for you if you need help to implement this. 

On a personal note: I hate surprises and managing through a crisis. I do it very well and that is why companies pull me for that support. However, out of that dislike for managing a crisis, I find the best work I can do is to help leaders like you to mitigate a crisis. It’s hard work to sit down and do this work, but most rewarding and ultimately can lead you to a place of Excitement, Optimism as well as saving a lot of time in the future. Doesn’t this sound like the leader you want to be? If you’ve got this, but know someone who is struggling, could this framework help them? Pass it along if you think someone would benefit from this framework of if my support will help another leader mitigate a crisis. 

 Now is the time for you to collect your thoughts and take action. 

To hear more about my story about How to create emotional consistency as a leader, please tune into my podcast that is releasing this Friday 5/12/23. 

Maybe you simply need a support system to apply these new insights. I find leaders simply need a place to talk through the challenges and that’s why I created The Drop In CEO Collective, a forum for C-Suite leader support. To learn more about our next event on 5/15/23, you can visit our page and register. 

Would you rather have a quick 1-2-1 to discuss your specific challenge? Could The Drop In CEO be your support system? Direct Message me on LI or contact me via my website and let’s have a conversation. Until then, I wish you much success.