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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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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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The missing factor in your risk assessment: detectability

Dr. Yossi Sheffi explains the “detectability axis,” which considers threats you can only detect only after the fact. This concept challenges our conventional methods of measuring risk using probability and impact.

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