Risk identification workshops: six tips to get them right

3 min read
Nov 25, 2021

Instead of risk identification being a bureaucratic task, it should empower employees to be more proactive in their risk management. Across our network, members have been collaborating to come up with better risk identification frameworks, including sharing practical advice on what makes a good workshop.

Download now [Case Study]: Using a Venn to integrate top risks and business objectives

Workshops are a helpful way to gain insight into risks and opportunities both from a bottom-up and a top-down approach. By inviting people from across the company to discuss and challenge typical thinking around risk, you’re developing a more nuanced understanding of risk at your organisation and helping eradicate siloed-thinking.

Workshops are also the place to discuss how risks intersect and affect functions in different ways on an enterprise-wide basis. You want employees to see the bigger picture; workshops take them outside of their immediate environment and encourage them to think outside the box.

As facilitator, the risk leader, you cannot afford to mess it up.

During our collaborative member meetings as well as bespoke assistance opportunities, risk leaders have built a roadmap for the identification of risks and opportunities which has been shared back with all members on our Intelligence platform. The roadmap details:

  1. How to sell a risk identification process internally to get people on board
  2. How to run effective risk identification workshops
  3. How to build a successful assessment and response plan
  4. How to extract lessons learned and integrate them into the identification cycle
  5. How to eradicate siloed thinking to create a standardised, enterprise-wide approach to risk identification

There are other tools, templates and how-tos for identifying emerging risks, reporting risk interconnectivity, and optimising assurance efforts, plus more that practicing risk leaders have contributed for their peers in the network.

Drawn from the risk identification roadmap, here are six top tips, tried-and-tested by members, for getting the best results from risk and opportunity identification workshops:

  1. Make it fun! Try to inject a sense of fun into workshop sessions to encourage participants to think outside the box and look beyond their own areas. Several risk managers use an online headline generator to focus employee thinking on situations and potential reactions. This helps with visualisation and injects some light-heartedness into the workshop discussions. When participants are relaxed, they will engage more.
  2. Divide and conquer: Another exercise used by risk teams is to split workshop attendees into two groups, with one focusing on “glass half-empty” scenarios - worst case outcomes for the relevant threats being discussed - and the other discussing “glass half-full” situations – the opportunities the business could face. The groups then switch focus to try to identify any gaps.
  3. Get outside assistance. Think about using external resources to enhance your own risk identification. For example, complete an analysis of competitors’ annual reports to see what emerging risks they have identified – you can use our Emerging Risk Tool to do this – or engage an external consultant to conduct an analysis to compare with your own results.
  4. Hold multiple workshops. Create different workshops for different purposes or stages of your process. For example, use pre-mortem workshops to create a long list of risks and then set up additional workshops to whittle down the list using discussion and challenging exercises. Make sure to tailor workshops to the maturity of your particular audience, too.
  5. Find your focus. Workshops can focus on an initiative, a launch or an acquisition, or even on an entire function. They can be conducted as an in-person or a virtual meeting, but remember to include people from across the business to ensure transversal risks are captured.
  6. Hold a close-out session. Use this to ask attendees to rank the risks identified and complete an initial gut-feel assessment of priority. Share these assessments in plenary and encourage attendees to challenge each other’s ideas.

Once you have a process in place for setting up workshops - and provided you make these sessions useful and engaging for attendees - this approach can add significant value to your risk identification framework.

By pulling perspectives from across the business you can prevent gaps in your analysis, while also encouraging teams across the business to take ownership of organisational risk.

This article has been drawn from the workshop section of the risk identification roadmap members have developed together. To read the whole roadmap document – including detailed insight on what effective assessment and response plans include, and how members are incorporating lessons learned into their identification cycle – talk to us about membership here.

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