Assess, Accept, & Address Risk
Risk is something we don't always talk about directly, yet it comes up in a whole heck of a lot of our decision making. One of the challenges in navigating disruption and countering fear is in the risks we don't necessarily talk about every day. The tough stuff. Let's be honest: our fear is often tied to the tough stuff. Sometimes that stuff is big risk.
Being able to honestly assess risk and actually see the risk landscape - or as much as is possible in any given moment - can help us chart a path forward. It may take some courage.
In incident management, we don't build a strategy until we have updated the status on the situation, determined which resources we have available now, and assessed the risk landscape of the incident itself. This is known as intelligence, or decision support information. If it's a wildfire, what is the fire danger and fire behavior? What are the threats to life and property? What are the potential impacts on critical infrastructure?
We can bring these tools ideas to our own lives. If I change jobs, what are the risks I can imagine from the change? What are the risks if I send my kids to camp? What are the risks if I rent in this building?
For something more formal, here is the methodology the US Department of Homeland Security uses to determine risk (discussed further in this post).
Risk = (Threat) + (Vulnerability) + (Consequence)
That calculation can bring in a whole lot of factors.
Acceptance is a huge piece of this. Looking at the calculation above may seem daunting. Looking at specific risks in your life or organization may seem daunting. The thing is that we are better prepared to navigate the world when we not only assess risk, but also when we accept it.
When we can assess and accept risk, we are better prepared to come up with a strategy to actually address it. As we go through the process, we may find that we can't effectively address all risk. Knowing what we can and can't address can help us to find a way forward, though. It can help us work on effective action, to counter fear, to be more ready for some of the tougher things, and to navigate the unexpected.
Related blog items
Related resource items
From the site: "The good news is, all over the country people are fighting hate, standing up to promote tolerance and inclusion. More often than not, when hate flares up, good people rise up against it — often in greater numbers and with stronger voices. This guide sets out 10 principles for fighting hate in your community."
"A New Species of Trouble: Explorations in Disaster, Trauma, and Community," by Kai Erikson. From the book jacket: "In the stories and feelings of the victims of these disasters, the author finds striking similarities. Fear, self-doubt, the erosion of a sense of security - the author finds these too among people who have suffered prolonged homeless-ness. These human experiences, the author says, add up to a form of trauma extending not just to individuals but to whole communities... The author shows how risks to indiviuals and the social fabric have heightened in the modern age. The seven gripping accounts in this book are his impassioned pleas that we recognize this new species of troube and do more to protect people from it."
"Beyond the Storms," Strengthening Homeland Security and Disaster Management to Achieve Resilience," by Dane S. Egli. Also see this USA Today article.
"Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed," by Jared Diamond. A TED talk is available here, and posted to videos.
Get a FREE PDF of this book at the link above. More about the report and initiative at this site: Disaster Resilience in America: Launching A National Conversation.
"Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World," by Adam Grant. From the book jacket, "Using surprising studies and stories spanning the worlds of business, politics, sports, and entertainment, Grant debunks the common belief that successful non-conformists are born leaders who boldly embrace risk. Originals explains now anyone can spot opportunities for change, recognize a good idea, overcome anxiety and ambivalence, and make suggestions without being silenced."
"The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States."
"The Big Pivot: Radically Practical Strategies for a Hotter, Scarcer, and More Open World," by Andrew S. Winston. See video also at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxYKO7oICiw.
"The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World," by Paul Gilding. This is a Counterfear Anchorpoint. From the author's website: "It’s time to stop just worrying about climate change, says Paul Gilding. We need instead to brace for impact because global crisis is no longer avoidable. This Great Disruption started in 2008, with spiking food and oil prices and dramatic ecological changes, such as the melting ice caps. It is not simply about fossil fuels and carbon footprints. We have come to the end of Economic Growth, Version 1.0, a world economy based on consumption and waste, where we lived beyond the means of our planet’s ecosystems and resources. The Great Disruption offers a stark and unflinching look at the challenge humanity faces-yet also a deeply optimistic message. The coming decades will see loss, suffering, and conflict as our planetary overdraft is paid; however, they will also bring out the best humanity can offer: compassion, innovation, resilience, and adaptability."
"The Power of Resilience: How the Best Companies Manage the Unexpected," by Dr. Yossi Sheffi of MIT. An excerpt from the website summary: "The interconnectedness of the global economy today means that unexpected events in one corner of the globe can ripple through the world’s supply chain and affect customers everywhere. In this book, Yossi Sheffi shows why modern vulnerabilities call for innovative processes and tools for creating and embedding corporate resilience and risk management. Sheffi offers fascinating case studies that illustrate how companies have prepared for, coped with, and come out stronger following disruption."
From author Chris McGoff in Part 1 of the book: "How do some people, organizations, and coalitions thrive in uncertain times? What enables them to appear so certain and take decisive action amid ambiguity about the future?" The PRIMES website says "The PRIMES are universal patterns of group behavior that outfit you to work with any group to solve any problem - especially the big ones." The PRIMES book notes "... Here's the deal. Almost all the tame problems have been solved. We get to solve the wicked problems. Wicked problems affect a lot of peple and it takes a lot of people, all with their own agendas, to collaborate and solve them. ... The people who, amid uncertainty, successfully lead large problem-solving groups share these characteristics. First, they are clear about what they are up to and how they spend their precious time. Second, they are intentional and willing to go first. Finally, they have mastered the art of enrolling others to join them." The PRIMES website also has short videos and info about each of The PRIMES. Another core counterfear resource is Chris McGoff's TEDx Rock Creek talk on "Quad4: Realm of Your Highest Impact and Highest Risk." The author's company The Clearing has done significant work on wicked problems in many counterfear focus areas.
"The Resilient Enterprise: Overcoming Vulnerability for Competitive Advantage," by Yossi Sheffi. Also check out this video.
The Community & Regional Resilience Institute (CARRI) "strengthens our national resilience by assisting communities in understanding their vulnerability, taking positive collective actions to limit the impact of disruptive crisis, and recovering rapidly from disaster of all kinds." CARRi is now part of a non-profit based in Washington, DC, and was originally funded by the US Department of Homeland Security and housed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Disaster Resilience in America: Launching a National Conversation. A National Academy of Sciences Initiative.
"The Disaster Resistant Communities Group was established to provide a host of disaster planning and preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation services to local, regional, state and national agencies and departments as well as community and faith based organizations." Excellent resource, including for free training and exercises.
Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC): "The only industry forum for collaboration on critical security threats facing the global financial services sector. When attacks occur, early warning and expert advice can mean the difference between business continuity and widespread business catastrophe. Members of the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) worldwide receive timely notification and authoritative information specifically designed to help protect critical systems and assets from physical and cyber security threats."
"We all have a hero inside of us. When a catastrophe strikes, our heroes are called upon. In the heroic improvisation practice, we practice how to be ready to put on our proverbial capes and fly. Disaster preparation training might not like sound fun... knowing how to act heroically with others is the key. What determines success when catastrophe strikes is our ability to listen, trust and act together... Potential danger requires us to know the plan of action, and chaos requires us to improvise responses to execute it. The heroic improvisation workshop puts us in a chaotic situation and gives us the felt-sense of moving into action together in a high stakes situation."
"Sector-based Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs) collaborate and coordinate with each other via the National Council of ISACs (NCI). Formed in 2003, the NCI today comprises 24 organizations designated by their sectors as their information sharing and operational arms. The NCI is a true cross-sector partnership, providing a forum for sharing cyber and physical threats and mitigation strategies among ISACs and with government and private sector partners during both steady-state conditions and incidents requiring cross-sector response. ...Council members are present on the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) watch floor, and NCI representatives can embed with National Infrastructure Coordinating Center (NICC) during significant national incidents."
Beautiful movie on resilience, persistence, finding a way forward, building creativity, and connection. Stuff that matters.
According to his MIT bio, Dr. Yossi Sheffi is "an expert in systems optimization, risk analysis, and supply chain management, which are the subjects he teaches and researches at MIT." He has published two excellent books on resilience: The Power of Resilience: How the Best Companies Manage the Unexpected, and The Resilient Enterprise: Overcoming Vulnerability for Competitive Advantage.
Fantastic go-to spot for resilience resources, news, and organizations.
Excellent (and short) Washington Post article "If You See Something, Make Sure It’s Actually Something Before You Call It Terrorism." The story references the US Department of Homeland Security's (DHS's) "See Something Say Something" campaign, and part of what that is really about. It isn't about calling in anyone who is different than you (as I mention in this blog), but about rooting out real extremism.
An excerpt: "Recruitment by radicals, violent ideas, criminal acts - those are real somethings. Wearing a hijab, speaking or writing Arabic, or being Muslims is simply being American. And it’s time we learn the difference."
Seth's Blog is an excellent resource for wisdom, inspiration, vision, motivation, and follow-through. It is also a great resource for further resources. Very worth receiving in a daily email or RSS feed.
"An Unlikely Hurricane Hero Takes Over Chaotic Texas Storm Shelter." News story about a man with no background or training who spontaneously led operations at a shelter during Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Excellent example of real-life Heroic Improv. As a fire chief friend says, "Lead, follow, or get out of the way." Anyone can lead.
Excellent blog post tool when you are "Stuck on What's Next." #FindAWayForward.
"Quad4: Realm of Your Highest Impact and Highest Risk:" Chris McGoff at TEDxRockCreekPark. This is a Counterfear Anchorpoint, because it is a rare, short look at what we need to do to solve wicked problems. Also check out Chris McGoff's website and book "The PRIMES," another posted Counterfear resource. The website has videos and a summary of each of the PRIMES.
Video on "The Big Pivot - Whiteboard Animation," 3:12 min. Based on book by the same name, by Andrew Winston: http://www.andrewwinston.com/books/.
Excellent video summary of the book, posted 3/2011: "Author and leading security expert Stephen Flynn discusses The Edge of Disaster Rebuilding a Resilient Nation with Patricia Gras on a HoustonPBS the Connection Special. Are we vulnerable to disaster, terrorism or acts of God? Is America living on borrowed time? His book is a wake up call demanding that we shake off our denial and sense of helplessness and start preparing immediately for a safer future." See Counterfear Toolbox book resource link for book reviews.
"The Resilient Enterprise: Overcoming Vulnerability for Competitive Advantage," with Yossi Sheffi, recorded 11/2005. Sound is a little wonky partway through but improves through end. See Yossi Sheffi blog at MIT here. From the video post summary: "Yossi Sheffi fires a shot across the bow of business owners who, even after 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, still have not assessed their organizations’ vulnerability to catastrophe. Sheffi piles on examples of organizations that simply did not have the appropriate mechanisms in place when disaster struck or evolved undetected." Also see book by the same name.
From the TED blurb: "Why do societies fail? With lessons from the Norse of Iron Age Greenland, deforested Easter Island and present-day Montana, Jared Diamond talks about the signs that collapse is near, and how - if we see it in time - we can prevent it."