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Risky business: the risk matrix

Risky business: the risk matrix

In my previous two posts, I explored better ways of capturing your key assets, threats, and vulnerabilities. Now, we will take these ingredients and plot them on a risk matrix.

First, download Lootok’s risk matrix.

The risk martrix
The risk matrix

The risk matrix provides a way to think about the probability and consequences of risks. Typically, risk is measured using two variables: impact and probability, which make up the axes of matrix.

Both of these variables should be specifically defined before using the risk matrix to plot your risks. The first variable, impact, is a measure of how harmed or disrupted your business would be if the risk occurred. Impacts can occur across different areas, such as finance, regulation, or reputation. Within each impact area, a risk can cause a low or high impact.

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Risky business: Attackers and Defenders™

Risky business: Attackers and Defenders

Welcome back. In my previous post, I presented the first of three activities that Lootok uses to complete risk assessments.

Our second activity, Attackers and Defenders™, identifies threats and vulnerabilities. Remember: threats, vulnerabilities, and assets are the ingredients for a risk. Without these three ingredients, there is no risk. In this post, I will show you how to use this activity to identify your specific threats and vulnerabilities.

At Lootok we love Attackers and Defenders™ because it engages everyone in the room. It is competitive. It involves role-playing. It forces you to think creatively about your business, and most importantly it is fun, which is not a word often used in the same sentence as risk assessments and business continuity!

The Attackers and Defenders™ activity creates an environment for structured dialogue around your organization’s threats and vulnerabilities. The key objective of this activity is to define the threats and vulnerabilities facing your key assets. The activity helps you determine realistic threats to your assets, and the vulnerabilities that allow those threats to cause a disruption. You will also be asked to reach an agreed upon prioritization of your risks, complete with evidence that can be used for reporting, planning, and investment.

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Risky business: Value Map™

Risky business: Value map

In my previous posts about risk, I discussed why we need to consider it, why we have difficulty assessing it, and how to be more objective.

Next, I will explore a number of the activities that Lootok developed to help measure risk at your organization. The first activity is Lootok’s Value Map™. The Value Map™ helps you identify and visualize your organization’s assets. If you recall from the first post, an asset is one of the ingredients of risk.

The Value Map™ is exactly what it sounds like: a giant map on the wall depicting the environment for which you wish to do a risk assessment. The map can be a campus, a country, the globe, an IT map, a factory, or blueprints—whatever environment you wish to measure risk.

Lootok Value Map
Lootok Value Map™

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Risky business: Who cares about risk?

Risky business: Who cares about risk?

Welcome back to my series on risk and risk assessments. In my first post I discussed why it is hard to objectively assess risk, and I suggested ways to look at risk more objectively. If you missed it, check out post 1.

This post explores why we need to think about risk in the first place.

Risk is inherent to doing business, and there are only two strategies that organizations can employ when facing risk:

  1. You can accept your risk
  2. You can reduce or eliminate your risk

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Risky business: What is risk?

Risky business: What is risk?

Risk lurks in all facets of daily life. Luckily, many risks are small: like crossing against the light when there are no cars or trying the new, Ethiopian restaurant down the block. Other risks are high: like quitting your job and doubling down on a new start up. Through our experience working with global organizations, we’ve seen it all. 

In spite of the ubiquity of risks, we rarely analyze them objectively. We are all imperfect, and we rely on past experiences and our emotions to understand the world around us and guide our decision-making. On the one hand, it makes sense that we are wired this way— if we didn’t rely on experience and emotion, we’d have to consciously evaluate every single situation anew, and we’d become paralyzed. On the other hand, there is a downside to the efficiency of this wiring: it makes us awful at objectively estimating risk. For example, bad experiences cloud our ability to accurately measure the impact of risks, as well as their relevance. Other factors, such as media attention, immediacy, control, and choice (Psychologist Paul Slovic) work to further compound that lack of objectivity.

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Risk Management’s Sweet Spot

Chris de Wolfe, global director of risk management at Mars Inc., shares his challenges of getting the global risk management program at Mars up and running.

“The CRM group had a lot to offer but was severely underutilized, which led to high insurance premiums, a high risk profile, and a significantly reduced resiliency and recovery capability,” Chris said.

Reflecting on how Mars as a business became a major success, de Wolfe decided that he needed to market and promote his own department in the same way. Partnering with Lootok, a risk management consultancy firm, he developed a strategy to engage with the employees in a fun yet educational way. He devised a 5- to 10-year plan, broken into 12- to 18-month strategies and individual project plans by mapping out all of the products and services that risk management offers. He conducted a perception survey and drew up a program based on the ABCs of risk management.

“The ABCs allowed people to understand that risk management not only provides insurance, but it also ensures that the business continues,” said de Wolfe.

Sean Murphy, CEO and founder of Lootok, said of de Wolfe:

“I’ve known Chris for 10 years and what differentiates him is that he treats his program as a business. He had a good program before but he wasn’t satisfied with it so he completely revamped it and is now reaping the benefits.”

Read full article

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How do you create situation awareness—Fresh perspectives with Mica Endsley

I had the privilege of sitting down with Mica Endsley —author of Designing for Situation Awareness: An Approach to User-Centered Design. Mica is the president of SA Technologies. Previously she was the Chief Scientist for U.S. Air Force.

Mica shares with us lessons learned from her book—Designing for Situation Awareness. I asked her nine (9) questions to solicit her thoughts on situation awareness, technology, and mental models.

Mica Endsley
Mica Endsley

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What is the best way to tell stories as means to communicate - Cliff Atkinson on Fresh Perspective

 

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How would a physicist approach risk management - Mark Buchanan on Fresh Perspective

 

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How to use Scenario Planning in Risk Management - Thomas Chermack on Fresh Perspective

 

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Can a crisis make you a celebrity?

Picture of man speaking to the press
Ready or not.  Say, “Cheese!”

While artists, athletes, and performers struggle to make their mark in the public eye with a memorable act or viral moment, a different type of celebrity has been emerging on the scene - the spokesperson for a crisis.

Here’s a quick exercise to highlight the point:

Jeffrey Boyd, Lew Frankfort, and Stephen Hemsley. Do these names sound familiar?
If not, don’t feel bad. They are the CEO’s of Priceline.com, Coach, and UnitedHealth Group, respectively.

Now, how about the names Tim Cook and James Comey?
We can immediately recall them as the CEO of Apple and the FBI Director, respectively, feuding over a locked iPhone involving a federal investigation of the San Bernardino shooting.

The media diligently covered Cook and Comey’s debate for more than three months. During that time, both men emerged as stars in a cast of characters ranging from lawyers, judges, politicians, and even presidential candidates. The media and public tuned in to hear their perspectives on data privacy, security, technology, civil rights, and terrorism.

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Disaster Recovery for America interview on the Federal News Radio

I appeared on Federal News Radio and shared my thoughts on new approaches to risk management and how to develop an effective approach to business. You can stream the recording for free here: Interview with Sean Murphy

Look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments!

Sean Murphy on Federal News Radio
Sean on Federal News Radio

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Shaking Up the Status Quo: Innovations in Risk Management

Chris de Wolf (Mars) and I got back together in April at the RIMS’16 conference for an overwhelmingly well-received session where we talked about transforming the risk function from a program to a business.

“Shaking up the Status Quo - Innovations in Risk Management” gave us the opportunity to tell the story of how we reinvented risk management - business continuity. Long story short: We were looking for a better way.

 

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Debunking myth #5: Best-in-class BCM software exists

Will BCM software deliver on its promise of making your BCM program easier to run? Is it really possible for BCM software to eliminate the difficulties in running your program?

Yes, it can—but there’s a catch. It won’t address challenges that are unique to your program. Essentially, your problems need to be shared by every other customer of the software.

Download Best-in-class BCM software exists, the fifth myth in Lootok’s series on the five myths of business continuity management (BCM)!

Best-in-class BCM software exists
Myth #5: Best-in-class BCM software exists

See Myth #1: The plan is the promised land.
See Myth #2: You need a business impact analysis (BIA).
See Myth #3: The risk matrix measures risk.
See Myth #4: It gets cheaper and easier.

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Fresh perspectives: biggest challenge in risk management – metrics

What’s the biggest challenge in risk management? If you ask risk analysis expert Yossi Sheffi, it’s the lack of an industry metric. For example, when you choose a supplier, how can you quantify how risky your choice is? When it comes to metrics, Sheffi says, risk still remains an area where gut feelings and opinions play a major role. And the biggest challenge for risk managers? Defuse the responsibility for managing risk throughout the whole company.

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Fresh perspectives: resiliency strategies

Risk analysis expert Yossi Sheffi discusses two fundamental resiliency strategies that organizations can use to recover from an incident: redundancy and flexibility. Using the examples of Intel and Southwest Airlines, Sheffi talks about the role of redundancies, flexibility and interchangeability, and communication and culture to provide risk managers with realistic and practical approaches to consider.

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Fresh perspectives: risk matrix

Risk analysis expert Yossi Sheffi explores the capabilities and limits of the traditional risk matrix, and adds another axis called “detectability.” Detectability has to do with time dimensions, or how much time we have to prepare and react to a threat. There are some events, such as a cyberattack or theft of intellectual property, that have no warning; you realize their occurrence only after they hit you. While the standard use of the risk matrix is influenced largely by the past, adding detectability means greater opportunity to tackle impending threats.

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Fresh perspectives: insights

What happens when we’re in a crisis we haven’t seen before, and our experience is insufficient? Such a situation requires us to gain “insight,” or develop new patterns that change the way we understand things and consequently, change the actions we consider. Research psychologist Gary Klein investigated the different ways that people form insights, and the factors that prevent us from having them.

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Fresh perspectives: crisis management team

There are certain challenges that face a crisis management team in the “Golden Hour,” the moment when team members convene to make critical decisions. Research psychologist Gary Klein discusses the need for team members to size up not only the situation, but also each other’s capabilities, roles, and responsibilities at time of event. That’s why it’s key for a crisis management team to regularly practice and train together.

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Fresh perspectives: uncertainty metaphors

How do most organizations handle uncertainty? They gather more information. Research psychologist Gary Klein explains why this isn’t always the best course of action. After all, it’s easy to gather information and sit on it; it’s harder to know how to make sense of events, and make a coherent story based on the data we have.

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Debunking myth #4: It gets cheaper and easier

Keeping a BCM program alive doesn’t get cheaper or easier over time. In this eBook, we’ll talk about why.

Download It gets cheaper and easier, the fourth myth in Lootok’s series on the five myths of business continuity management (BCM)!

It gets cheaper and easier
Myth #4: It gets cheaper and easier

See Myth #1: The plan is the promised land.
See Myth #2: You need a business impact analysis (BIA).
See Myth #3: The risk matrix measures risk.
See Myth #5: Best-in-class BCM software exists.

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Fresh perspectives: recognition-primed decision model

How can leaders make good decisions under the extreme time constraints of a crisis? To find out, research psychologist Gary Klein studied fire fighters to understand their approach to making crucial, complex decisions so quickly. The recognition-primed decision (RPD) process, as he explains, reveals how these professionals assess the situation: they compare familiar patterns and cues to past experiences to know which actions to take.

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Debunking myth #3: The risk matrix measures risk

The risk matrix is a standard tool commonly used in risk assessments. It’s straightforward to use, and easy to explain. The only trouble is, the risk matrix doesn’t actually forecast or measure risk.

When used as a quantitative tool, the risk matrix is misunderstood. Our challenge as practitioners is to recognize the limitations of the risk matrix, so we can use it in a way that increases understanding of the threats around us. In this eBook, we explore how.

Download The risk matrix measures risk, the third myth in Lootok’s series on the five myths of business continuity management (BCM)!

The risk matrix measures risk
Myth #3: The risk matrix measures risk

See Myth #1: The plan is the promised land.
See Myth #2: You need a business impact analysis (BIA).
See Myth #4: It gets cheaper and easier.
See Myth #5: Best-in-class BCM software exists.

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Understanding the risk environment: Sean Murphy discusses nonlinear environment with Gary Klein

I had the pleasure to interview Gary Klein the author of “Seeing What Others Don’t,” “Streetlights and Shadows,” “Working Minds,” and “Sources of Power.” His research and experience is invaluable to anyone in the field of risk management. In this interview, Gary talks about the difference between a well-ordered domain (i.e., normal business environment) and complex domain (i.e., crisis environment). Understanding the characteristics and attributes of each environment is critical to understanding what tools, processes, and capabilities needed to be successful in each environment.

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Debunking myth #2: You need a business impact analysis (BIA)

Many of us business continuity management (BCM) professionals are convinced that a business impact analysis (BIA) is a “must-have” for any company. On top of that, we often believe the more information we gather, the better. But after the enormous effort to collect mountains of data and conduct endless interviews, we end up with little value to show for it.

Doing a BIA is expected of us, but do companies actually need a BIA? I guarantee that conducting an extensive BIA project is a quick way to exhaust your resources, stall your program agenda, and taint the reputation of your program. But if you’re willing to question why you’re doing a BIA, and then facilitate the process in a practical way for participants, you can maximize your investment. This eBook explores how to do this, and why it matters.

Download You need a business impact analysis (BIA), the second myth in Lootok’s series on the five myths of business continuity management (BCM)!

You need a business impact analysis (BIA)
Myth #2: You need a business impact analysis (BIA)

See Myth #1: The plan is the promised land.
See Myth #3: The risk matrix measures risk.
See Myth #4: It gets cheaper and easier.
See Myth #5: Best-in-class BCM software exists.

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Dr. Yossi Sheffi on crisis management

Dr. Yossi Sheffi, author of “Resilient Enterprise: Overcoming Vulnerability for Competitive Advantage,” discusses two of his favorite crisis management case studies with Sean Murphy.

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Debunking myth #1: The plan is the promised land

As BCM professionals, we’ve long believed in the myth that a plan is our key to recovery during a disruption. Often, we hyper-focus on the plan as undeniable proof that the right actions will be taken in an incident. This is the worst possible approach. Learn why in our eBook, The plan is the promised land, the first in Lootok’s series on the five myths of business continuity management (BCM)!

The plan is the promised land
Myth #1: The plan is the promised land

See Myth #2: You need a business impact analysis (BIA).
See Myth #3: The risk matrix measures risk.
See Myth #4: It gets cheaper and easier.
See Myth #5: Best-in-class BCM software exists.

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Why don’t plans work?

Sean Murphy discusses the limitations of plans with renowned author and research psychologist Gary Klein.

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Business continuity and the Sony data breach

A massive data breach at Sony Pictures Entertainment, which experts believe was targeted by North Korea as retaliation for a film depicting the assassination of its leader Kim Jong Un, has led to an international incident that has gained the attention of business continuity professionals. Even large companies like Sony can sometimes put business continuity planning on the back burner.  BC professionals say that attacks like this can sometimes change their minds.

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Seven insights from superstorm Sandy: a financial sector retrospective

$18 billion dollars. That’s the number estimated in damages caused by Hurricane Sandy just in the state of New York alone. With the unexpected turns that transpired amidst the super storm, all businesses were reminded of the importance of business resiliency.

Given the vast amount of information presented to-date, it is still very important that the financial sector revisit the surprises from Sandy to ensure that critical financial services are better protected. A team of experienced BCM advisors gathered the recommendations in the accompanying table from industry thought leaders in leading global financial services companies to learn from their perspectives.

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