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10 Principles of Risk Workshop Facilitation Part 1: The First Five

Posted by Shannon Gunderman on April 16, 2015 at 12:07 PM

ISO 31000 divides the assessment of risk into three distinct steps (risk identification, risk analysis, and risk evaluation), after which the treatment of the risk is then analyzed. In order to assess risk within my entity (Yuma County, Arizona), I conduct two workshops each month with a different department. In the first workshop, participants identify and classify all their risks and, after discussion, decide which are considered to be “key risks.” In the second workshop these key risks are analyzed and evaluated, given a treatment, and assigned to an owner. On paper this seems to be an easy, straight-forward process. However, in practice it can be problematic as workshops bring together diverse personalities and backgrounds. To address this challenge, I have put together a list of 10 principles that I believe improve workshop facilitation. I hope that by integrating these principles into your workshops you can experience similar success.

  1. Encourage Diversity – The success of your workshop is heavily dependent upon who is asked to participate. If only managers and supervisors are invited, the operational knowledge and valuable insights and solutions found in “front line” employees may be missed. Although the authority to select who will participate may reside with the department head, persuade the decision maker to invite those whom you feel will diversify the group.
  2. Educate and Empower – An employee who understands and appreciates the concepts and benefits of ISO 31000 will be more inclined to join the discussion and support the process. Therefore, make sure you take a little time prior to the workshop (15-20 minutes) to educate the participants on ISO 31000 and the anticipated outcomes of the workshop.
  3. Remember Your Place – It is important to remember the part you play in the workshop. You may be the subject matter expert in risk and ISO 31000 but the participants are the experts in their respective fields. Your job is to educate them on the risk assessment process and to facilitate a discussion that aids them in identifying and discussing their unique risks. Remember “don’t dominate, facilitate.
  4. Watch Your Time – There are few things worse than a meeting that loses direction and ends too soon without achieving anything or runs so far overtime that it fatigues and irritates your participants. If you have promised that the meeting will be no more than 3 hours, then stick to that time-frame. Monitor your time closely, as it can be easy to spend too much time discussing some risks and not enough time discussing others.
  5. Encourage OwnershipOwnership of risks is critical to their successful treatment and/or exploitation. Some participants may need help understanding the reasons why some risks are “theirs” and this will require patient persuasion on your part. Ensuring that risks are owned will contribute to the success of your ERM program.