Ways to do the Risk Assessment

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A form of strategic planning and methodology, risk assessment process is an earnest attempt to think about the future by assessing past events. Most of the planning strategies are made based on certain beliefs about the future, which is generally unpredictable. Worst risk assessments deny the reality of unpredictability. Language and zero ideology help promote the denial of unpredictability.

The best risk assessment plan focuses and prepares on resilience. Following a strategy that assumes great control, projecting value onto some score, no mistakes, measurement or colour creates a strategy that is more difficult to adapt when change or turbulence arrives. The important thing in managing risk is not fixity but adaptability.

A risk assessment is not an engineering or mathematical lesson but a human social practice that should focus largely on conversation than dealing with colours or scores that have no significance. Simply speaking, risk assessment should be a dialogue and conversation regarding subjective understanding of uncertainties. According to Karl Weick, ‘I can’t know what I believe until I see what I do’. This shows humans have very limited foresight but unlimited hindsight. When we think about what we have done in past, we generally go backwards and when we talk about what we should or might do, we think about what might happen. Humans are not omniscient, omnipotent or omnipresent. Setting no goals may be applicable for god but makes no sense for human beings.

The risk evaluation process is a strategic task and thinking conversation and if we believe it is an mathematical or engineering task, we will be in trouble. The feeling of controlling the uncertainty and unexpected actually lessens any thought about resilience and adaptability. So, even as it is helpful to converse about future, this also helps us to process and imagine possibilities but not certainties. Rather than having a focus on skills and resilience of adaptability we should be able to manage the unexpected.

The good risk assessment method should have a section at the end for learning, thinking, conversation outcomes, adaptability, resilience thinking and dialogue. What is the type of the risk assessment methodologies you adopt in your workplace? Are people making you resilient and adaptable or fixed and closed? What kind of thinking do they drive? Are we by any way close to predict future? Or do we make our workplace more ‘fragile’ (Taleb) to face surprise so that when surprise comes, things don’t hold together but fall apart?

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