CWS 3.0: November 14, 2012

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Evaluating CW Risk to Get Buy-in

Many people struggle with articulating risk and the potential costs of risk — the backbone of a business case — to stakeholders and the C-Suite. Building an effective business case, though, can be the key to winning executive buy-in and program adoption. Taking a page from Mike Southon, an entrepreneurial mentor and speaker whom I admire, I’ve developed the five Ps of risk management: problem, probability, process, profit and people. Using the five Ps to build your business case creates an effective and succinct communication platform to present to executives and other stakeholders.

Problem. What is the problem? Is it operational? Technological? Or an external risk? Your problem statement should be clear with distinct boundaries. Too often, problem statements are nebulous and don’t lend themselves to an effective resolution. You may even find when summing up a problem statement, that one problem really may be two in disguise.

Probability. In real terms, what is the probability of this problem creating a legitimate business issue? I say legitimate business issue because many suppliers can muddy the waters, sometimes creating a boogeyman that spells imminent doom in an effort to sell their services. Be very clear what your needs are and seek independent counsel in developing a probability statement should you need assistance.

Profit. What is the potential cost of the risk event should it occur?

Process. Here you will address what will the remediation process will look like. What is involved? How will the processes be different afterward? What will change and how will it be sustainable over time and across geographies as required? How will you know when you are done? What defines success or failure?

People. Here you will state who will be affected as well as who will be involved in the resolution. Will it be internal resources or will you look outside your company? Do you need to make organizational changes or hire new resources?

Addressing the five Ps will form the backbone of your CW strategy — and can actually be applied to any problem you encounter in the workplace. It need not be daunting. Addressing these questions can help you build your business case and win crucial buy-in, whatever your cause. 

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