Risk has been around for as long as there have been people on this planet. What’s fascinating is the changing nature of risk. From the risk of becoming dinner for a hungry dinosaur while out hunting to the usual natural risks of meteorites, earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods to sophisticated new risks like cyber attacks, risks are evolving right along with our own evolution.
Nowhere is this more evident than business risk. The very function of creating and operating a business is to run headlong into myriad risks while creating new ones. Sometimes, creating risk is even part of the business strategy. Let me explain that.
When businesses take on innovation and opportunity risk, they knowingly put themselves in a position to fail. That same risk can also lead to great reward, as other companies are either to fearful to take the risk or do indeed fail. Similarly, companies that start up or create a new division in a competitive market take on competitive risks that could damage or even kill their current business model. Again, knowingly putting the company at risk opens the door to potentially great success and rewards. The strategy is to identify all the other risks and take steps to reduce, eliminate or use financial tools like insurance to protect them.
During this long-running pandemic, we have been working with our clients and other companies to go on the offensive—to identify risks and accelerate learning to foresee and control risk. One example is our work with local and regional manufacturers. We saw their stress navigating as essential businesses while the virus was marching across the world. Instead of waiting to see how risks would play out—many of which were not yet recognized—we formed and facilitated a roundtable of manufacturers to share what they were seeing, what actions they were taking, and discuss new ways of operating. The results of these weekly ad-hock video calls were more than impressive.
These manufacturers were of every size from a hundred employees to more than 55,000. They openly shared their fears, failures and solutions as well as various vendors for PPE and other services. What would have been an agonizing and drawn out learning curve for each of them resulted in a greatly accelerated process of risk mitigation. While OneGroup was there merely to facilitate and answer any risk management questions, we learned a great deal about the value of openly communicating with others in your industry, even your competitors. When asked after several weeks of meeting every Friday if they would like to continue meeting, they unanimously said they felt they were getting great value out of sharing as well as having made valuable new contacts.
Taking what we learned, we quickly acted to form additional roundtables in other areas including construction and small business while clients asked about doing the same for them.
Interestingly, OneGroup was formed years ago with the vision of assembling hundreds of experts and specialists and developing the skills and technology tools to put them in front of business leaders—virtually—when they need help. The concept was to create a unique business model that would allow us to hire the best people anywhere, dramatically speed our ability to collaborate with each other regardless of geography, and meet clients’ needs without suffering the time and expense of travel, lodging and weather. Little did we know when we were designing our business that we were setting ourselves up to mitigate the risk of a global pandemic on our own operations.
To my peers reading this, I am always available to share what we have learned or to discuss facilitating a roundtable or virtual meetings. We are here to help you go on the offensive when it comes to risk and we believe the best way to do that is to share knowledge openly and freely.