People love to make predictions. Really, it’s part of the human condition. There they go, swanning about with their opinions and their haircuts, ready to go all Nostradamus on everything from the weather, to election outcomes, football scores and the price of cheese. Or any other price for that matter. There are whole industries built on it. However, ask a typical line manager to make predictions about likely risks to his operational area and it’s remarkable how often that particular well dries up. Why? Well, here’s a thought:
It may be because such predictions can lead to expenditure and, while line management are happy signing off budget for things they can relate to in the present, putting one’s name to spending against things that may never happen is ‘arse in the wind’ time (as we say down our way).
Apart from anything else, how do we build this into to an individual’s annual bonus review? A rating for hazards successfully avoided (even if we can’t measure them)? Or perhaps a bonus top up for ‘quality of prediction’? Should we attempt to recognise the degree to which local management risk-taking aligns to the organisation’s risk-stance?
We’re way down the rabbit hole now. What I do know is this: while it may seem like an easy thing to do, asking line managers to identify risks often means asking them to go way out their comfort zone and that’s not always easy at all.