“Culture is the most important element of successful risk management.” So said about 50 risk managers and CROs who we interviewed between December 2019 and May 2020.
Okay, so we are paraphrasing en masse. But that’s the gist. On the significance of culture, our interviewees were unanimous.
However, opinions diverged greatly on how to nurture it, how to measure it, why it matters… even what it actually is.
Then when COVID-19 shutdowns hit, culture went on the backburner for many companies. Understandably, as when people are in crisis mode, non-essential items get parked.
But that’s the conundrum of culture. Everyone agrees it’s vital, yet it’s always the project that gets left until tomorrow.
So many risk managers we interviewed said: “I’d love to do more on culture, but there just isn’t time”. Routine activities like board reports, risk registers, health and safety checks, and chasing up incomplete training get in the way.
To say culture was less important during lockdown would not be accurate. People may have been paying it less attention, but it was still bubbling away in the background, impacting decision-making and risk-taking.
Did those with a robust risk culture fare better?
Those companies that had culture sorted (or, at least, sort of sorted) experienced advantages. Remote work transitions seemed to go more smoothly, employee communication and engagement was strong, and business collaboration continued.
As we start focusing on resilience and recovery in the second half of 2020, it’s clear culture is going to remain key to successful delivery.
While you might not be about to launch a large-scale overhaul, you never know what small changes could bring you big benefits when the next crisis unfolds.