Risk Management and the Best Laid Plans…

Contingency and prevention plans will help your projects succeed where others fail.

Stever Robbins,
November 21, 2011
Episode #199

Page 2 of 2

Tip #3: Create Prevention Plans for the Big Risks

Prevention is something you do now that prevents the risk from happening. For instance, if you pre-bought all the zombie reanimation powder you think you would ever use and stored it in empty grain silos you had purchased throughout the Midwest through a network of shell companies, that would completely prevent the possibility of problems due to late shipments. (Of course, this preventative plan introduces a new risk. The reanimation powder can leach into the surrounding soil. This can cause complications, as I can attest from personal experience. Prevent that risk by making sure the silos you bought are water-tight.)

You could pre-sample each vendor's powder and test it for quality before committing to a vendor. While that won't prevent the possibility of one or another batch being bad, it will prevent the possibility of being locked into a contract with a vendor who simply can't deliver.

Tip #4: Know What Triggers Your Risks

For each risk, identify how you'll know the risk has taken place. Do this even for risks you think you've prevented, because you never know. The last thing the Midwest needs is an army of zombie worms pouring from a broken grain silo. You want to detect the risk quickly, on the off chance it does happen despite your best laid plans for prevention (because we know how "best laid plans" work out).

Decide how you'll know the risk has happened, and assign someone responsibility for monitoring it. Tell your trusted assistant Zachary to monitor each silo on closed-circuit TV. If he sees zombie worms rise up and cry for brains, he'll know the risk has happened. By the way, don't use broadcast TV to monitor your zombies. Again, I speak from personal experience.

Tip #5: Design Contingency Plans for Each Risk

Contingency plans are what you'll do if a risk happens. At least think through contingency plans for all your risks, so if worst comes to worst (and we all know it will), you have a plan and can jump straight into action. You open the cages and let your genetically-engineered worm-eating bunny rabbits loose near the silo. A few minutes later, you have lots of well-fed bunnies, and no more zombified worms.

A few more examples: exercising and eating well are good prevention for many chronic diseases. Having a yearly check-up is an early detection system for many of those diseases. (Some people think check-ups are prevention. They aren't. They're early detection in case prevention failed.) If you do get the diseases, medicine and treatment is your contingency plan. 

If you can't come up with a good contingency plan, consider buying insurance. It's the ultimate contingency plan. If disaster strikes and you own insurance, at least you get cash to make everything right. The Producers is a film and Broadway musical based on this very notion…

Plans don't always work out, but a little up-front thinking can save the day. Be willing to confront your risks and put in place prevention plans for the big ones, and think through contingency plans for all of them. That way, when the universe throws you a curve-ball, you'll still be able to catch it, while your competitors crash and burn like the mixed metaphors they are.

Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life! 

Images coursey of Shuttershock.com.