are you creating hazards?

Are you unintentionally creating hazards?

Have you ever seen situations and wondered what the person was thinking who created it? A few days ago was one of those times. A crew was working in the neighborhood and left their trucks overnight.

The truck and its trailer were wrapped around a corner. They were so large, you couldn’t see around them, forcing drivers to turn into oncoming traffic hoping no-one was there. A particular hazard because oncoming traffic was coming around a bend and would not have time to react to a car on the wrong side of the road.

People do things all the time at work, focusing on the task at hand. Sometimes they are not aware of the hazards they are creating. How are you making sure you don’t have any unintended hazards in your business?

are you watching out for risks ahead?

Are you charging ahead or hesitating?

There’s a blind corner at one particular spot on the daily walk. And when I say corner, it is a really long, rounded corner with a waist high cinder block wall with a 6 foot fence on top that seems to take forever to traverse.

Although we take the walk almost every day, as soon as we get to that corner, my dog starts pulling really hard and starts going even faster. What might we encounter that we can’t see? She is charging hard to find out!

In business, there are lots of blind corners too. We’ve been on the road before, but today there might be something new on the way. Do you charge ahead fast to find out? Do you proceed cautiously? Do you hesitate? Each approach has its upsides and drawbacks. If you aren’t prepared for them. Which do you choose?

how do you assess risk?

How are people self assessing risk in your business?

Every morning I see rabbits all over the place. Some are on their own, while others are in groups. On one particular morning, there was a group of four nibbling on the grass. As I approached, three ran up the hill and into a bush. The fourth ran down the hill, paused and watched me as I walked by.

Everyone has their own perception and tolerance for risk. But in business, that can be problematic if individual tolerance for risk is too permissive or too restrictive. How are you making sure you get the balance you want in your business?

unintended consequences

Are unintended consequences derailing your good ideas?

Malcolm Gladwell recently shared things he has been thinking about and testing. One in particular caught my attention. Driverless cars. His theory is that people fear walking out in front of cars because they won’t be seen and will be hit. But in the future, driverless cars will be programmed to stop when people walk in front of them. As a result, what has been touted as a more efficient way to commute will come to a grinding halt because people will no longer follow the rules and will walk across roads and highways at will.

Unintended consequences happen all the time from great and well-meaning ideas. What unintended consequences are coming from your ideas?

risk measurement and management

How are you ensuring you don’t skip mitigation measures when risks arise?

The woman was just past the entrance inside of the store. And then it happened. She had a sneezing fit. And as one sneeze after another came, she removed her mask. It is a natural reaction. But the mask is a risk mitigation measure meant to protect others.

Those same sort of natural inclinations to remove mitigation measures happen all the time in business. Risks can be infrequent, but highly impactful if they happen. But mitigation responses are designed with the expectation that people will think through all of the mitigation options when risks arise. And they fail because right at the moment the mitigation measures are most needed, instincts and experience kick in. And the mitigation measures designed for the moment are forgotten or overlooked.

How are you ensuring you don’t skip mitigation measures when risks arise?

how do you adapt to extreme situations

How do you adapt in extreme situations?

About a month ago, a big snow storm hit the area, leaving snow in many places for a week. And for a few days, the snow was so high, leaving the house was nearly impossible. And while only a few ventured out bundled up, the birds were out in force. They were flying around and chirping away. It was too cold for people to go outside, but tiny birds were quite happy out in the freezing temperatures. How did they not freeze? Apparently, they have several mechanisms to survive the cold.

There are extreme situations that can test businesses every year. Just like birds have built in capabilities to make it through, businesses can build in capabilities too. What are the extreme situations you experience in your business? How are you building in capabilities to make it through them?

Risk can be an advantage

What is your backup plan?

A few weeks ago, during the snow storm in the Pacific Northwest, I lost the internet connection for a few hours. Luckily, it was a short period of time and I still had power. I also had a radio, so I was able to listen to the radio to hear updates.

The situation was a good reminder of the power of backup plans. There are always a variety of issues that can crop up in business. And having backup plans that are not reliant on the same platforms are important to keep going. What are your backup plans?

Risk can be an advantage

What risks are you willing to take?

There is a steep hill by my house. Steep enough that cars can easily accelerate beyond 40 mph without pressing the gas peddle, causing homeowners to post signs along the road to slow down. Apparently the attraction of the hill was too great for a teenage boy to resist. He went flying down the hill, with cars behind him, without a helmet. Hitting a twig or rock, which are common along the road, could have resulted in serious injury or worse. But he was lucky and ended his ride safely.

Sometimes reckless risks payoff. But the payoff is a function of luck, not skill. Taking calculated risks, understanding what could go wrong and having a plan to address them, makes a lot of sense. But in taking the risk, you should be willing to lose whatever is being placed on the line if going big. What risks are you willing to take?

risk solution

How do you get around problems?

During the winter, an ice patch forms in the same location. Water flows from one side of the street to the other and freezes in a patch wide enough to make stepping across not an option. Some people see it and turn around. Others try to walk across it and fall. And others see the way around by stepping on the curb, holding onto the light pole and getting to the other side.

When you see a problem, how do you get around it?

are you stopping things that no longer make sense?

Do you know what to stay away from?

Walking around the area, the fall berries provide a nice pop of color and contrast to the bare limbs and bushes in the winter. They are everywhere in many colors and sizes. After the birds ate my strawberries and cherries through the summer, I got to wondering why the birds eat the summer berries, but not the fall and winter berries. The answer wasn’t simple and straightforward. But clearly there is something that causes the birds to stay away.

Your business should have things you instinctively know to stay away from too. Whether projects that don’t move the organization forward or risks that shouldn’t be taken, every person in the organization should know instinctively to stay away.