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Risk Insider: Grace Crickette

Waging War & the Sheathed Sword

By: | September 17, 2014 • 2 min read
Grace Crickette, senior vice president of risk services with AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah, is writing a series on how to gracefully transform your risk management program through enterprise risk management and change management techniques. She can be reached at Grace.Crickette@goaaa.com.

MAKE ERM, NOT WAR

rainbow peace sign copyPart II of a series exploring phrases and tactics from Sun Tzu’s* The Art of War to develop strategies for implementing ERM programs. This installment delves into Chapter II: On Waging War (Pick Your Battle) and Chapter III: The Sheathed Sword (Offensive Strategy).

Chapters II and III of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War are about knowing who is with you and who is against you. War amongst friends? The implementation of your program is the war and the best place to pick your first battle (implementing change) is with those who are for you and who want what the program will deliver.

The Importance of Knowledge, Wisdom, and Understanding

A theme that is imbedded in virtually every other theme of the Art of War, especially in regard to knowing self and opposition, is the importance of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.

These are borne from asking questions and listening. When implementing ERM, it is critical to spend time meeting with people in the organization, but not talking about ERM. Rather, focus on listening to their issues and problems. Inquire, listen and acknowledge, but don’t solve. Walk away and study the issues before returning with a plan as to how an ERM program can be a tool for the owner of the risk.

Who will we engage with first? Can we identify a quick win?

These are the first questions to ask and answer when choosing your first battle. Even if you have a mandate from the Board to implement ERM, you will still face resistance. You need to be able to evidence value and to do that you need to deliver results in a timely fashion. Choose to implement ERM activities with those who have indicated an interest and to which the activity will deliver measurable results.

Example: Complete a risk registry with an ERM approach that can be part of a business plan used to support a budget request for a department. An ERM risk registry does not have to “boil the ocean”; it can be completed down at even a project level. This approach can yield a quick win that you can communicate to others to gain further support.

Who will be against us? What will they do/say and how will we counter?

Prior to even starting your first battle (implementation), brainstorm with others on who might be against you and what they will say. A productive way to do this is to prepare and publish a Q&A document. Think of all the questions and challenges that those who might not embrace the program will make and develop responses. This exercise will benefit your program several ways:

  • It will punch holes in your program and prompt you to make needed improvements.
  • It will win over doubters by evidencing that the program is sound and has value.
  • For those that may never buy-in, it will evidence that you are a worthy opponent and possibly not worth their time (they can move onto weaker opponents).

Key Takeaway: Listen and learn from others before you ask them to participate in your ERM program. Know who, where and what to first implement. Prepare for those who will be resistant.

Remember — it’s not Risk Management, it’s Change Management!

* Sun Tzu was a Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher who lived in the Spring and Autumn Period of ancient China.
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Grace in the Workplace: How to gracefully bring together traditional risk management and change management techniques, and enterprise risk management conceptsRead more of Grace’s Sun Tzu series. 
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2014 Risk All Stars

Universal Risk Management

The 2014 Risk All Stars overcame challenges through exceptional problem-solving, creativity, perseverance and passion.
By: | September 15, 2014 • 2 min read
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Risk management theory and practice fascinates — and can also appear so complex — because it resides in so many different professional realms and takes such different shapes.

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Some of this year’s Risk All Stars work for widely known companies with billions in assets. Others work for a nonprofit that cobbled its solutions together with government grants.

In some examples, winners of the award were armies of one, who either through specialization or a unique perspective effected sweeping change. But creativity, passion and perseverance, the traits that we base this award on, are found in every winner.

In the person of Dr. Mike Tomecek, of the Oklahoma Spine & Brain Institute, Risk & Insurance® gives an award for the first time to a neurosurgeon; perhaps it won’t be the last.

Dr. Tomecek uses electrodiagnostic functional assessments to determine whether medical hardware removal surgery is really necessary. His specific knowledge of nerve function, coupled with technology, allows him to determine whether the movements that are actually causing pain or immobility are connected to medical hardware or are coming from some other place.

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With his assessments, Dr. Tomecek acts as a patient advocate who is reducing surgeries and recommending site-specific physical therapy, a far less costly and intrusive treatment.

Risk All Stars winners Chris Chathams and Latitia Estrada are working-class heroes. These safety and human resources specialists work for the Timber Products Manufacturers Association.

The association is a trade group for smaller operators in the extremely hazardous timber industry in the Pacific Northwest. Using massive, unforgiving chain saws to bring down big trees, workers in the timber industry get hurt badly when something goes wrong.

The forestry companies that depend on the association as a safety education resource don’t have the resources to offer safety training on their own, even though such training is drastically needed.

Using grants from OSHA, Chathams and Estrada created a safety training program that in a three-year span reduced injuries for some member companies by 75 percent. That’s a lot of workers and their families suffering less trauma.

Richard Pcihoda, the director of risk management for the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, moved with speed and effectiveness when Superstorm Sandy struck. One of PREIT’s shopping malls suffered millions in damage when the storm hit.

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But Pcihoda had planned ahead, lining up a reconstruction contractor so he didn’t have to wait in line for help after the fact. Pcihoda’s planning, and his great relationships with his adjusters, resulted in the Hudson Mall reopening a mere 17 days after the storm.

Business interruption was lessened and many jobs saved as a result.

Risk management can be a thankless job. It demands hard work and attention to detail that some people would rather not think about.

But we think about it. The 2014 Risk All Stars awards are our way of saying thanks.

Complete coverage of the 2014 Risk All Stars winners begins here.

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at dreynolds@lrp.com.
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Sponsored Content by Riskonnect

A Dreaming Team

Chris Thorn of Southwest Airlines got creative with his risk management program. Now, the sky's the limit.
By: | September 15, 2014 • 4 min read
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Chris Thorn is known as one of the most creative risk managers in the business. After all, his risk management program hit the cover of Risk & Insurance® in March, 2012.

Now the senior manager, payments and risk, for Southwest Airlines is working with Riskonnect, a technology partner that he thinks can take his program to new heights.

“For us, it’s a platform that gives you so many different tools that if you can dream it, you can build it,” said Thorn.

Claims administration

Thorn ditched his legacy risk management information system in 2012 and started working with Riskonnect, initially using the platform solely for liability claims management.

But the system’s “do-it-yourself” accessibility almost immediately caught the eye of Thorn’s colleagues managing safety risk and workers’ compensation.

“They were seeking a software solution at the time and said, ‘Hey, we want to join the party,” Thorn recalls of his friends in safety and workers’ compensation.

SponsoredContent_Riskonnect“For us, it’s a platform that gives you so many different tools that if you can dream it, you can build it.”

–Chris Thorn, senior manager, payments and risk, Southwest Airlines

What was making Thorn’s colleagues so jealous was the system’s “smart question” process which allows any supervisor in the company to enter a claim, while at the same time freeing those supervisors from being claims adjusters.

The Riskonnect platform asks questions that direct the claim to the appropriate category without the supervisor having to take on the burden of performing that triage.

“They love it because all of the redundant questions are gone,” Thorn said.

The added beauty of the system, Thorn said, is that allows carriers and TPAs to work right alongside the Southwest team in claims files while maintaining rock-solid cyber security.

“This has sped up the process,” Thorn said.

“Any time you can speed up the process, the more success you’re going to have when you make offers to settle claims,” he said.

Policy management

Since that initial splash in claims management, the Riskonnect platform has gone on to become a rock star at Southwest in a number of other areas. And as Thorn suggests, the possibilities of the system are limited only by the user’s imagination.

SponsoredContent_RiskonnectWith a little creativity and help from Riskonnect as needed, a risk manager can add on system capabilities without having to go on bended knee to his own information technology department.

In the area of insurance policy management, for example, the Riskonnect platform as built by Thorn now holds data on all property values and exposures that can in turn be downloaded for use by underwriters.

Every time Southwest buys a new airplane, the enterprise platform sends out a notice to the airlines insurance broker, who in turn notifies the 16 or 17 carriers that are on the hull program.

Again, in that “anything’s possible” vein, the system has the capability of notifying the carriers, directly, a tool Thorn said he’s flirting with.

“It is capable of doing that,” he said.

“We’re testing out this functionality before we turn on it loose directly to the insurance companies.”

Carrier ratings

In alignment with the platform’s muscle in documenting, storing and reporting liability and property exposures, the system monitors and reports on insurance carrier financial strength.

If a rating agency downgrades a Southwest program carrier’s financial strength, for example, the system “pings” Thorn and his colleagues.

“Not only will we know about it, but we will also know all programs, present and past that they participated on, what the open reserves are for those policy years and policies,” Thorn said.

“That gives us even more comfort that we have good, solid financial backing of the insurance policies that are protecting us,” Thorn said.

Accounting interface

Like many of us, Chris Thorn didn’t set out to work in risk management and insurance. Thorn is a Certified Public Accountant, and it’s that background that allows him to take creative advantage of the Riskonnect platform’s malleability in yet another way.

With the help of the Riskonnect customer service team, Thorn added a function to the platform that allows him to calculate the cost of insurance policies on a monthly basis, enter them into a general ledger and send them over to his colleagues in accounting.

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“It’s very robust on handling financial information, date information, or anything with that much granularity,” Thorn said.

The sky is the limit

Thorn and Southwest are only two years into their relationship with Riskonnect and there are a number of places Thorn thinks the platform can take him that have yet to be explored, but certainly will be.

“It’s basically a repository of anything that’s risk-related, it continues to grow,” Thorn said.

SponsoredContent_Riskonnect“This has sped up the process. Any time you can speed up the process, the more success you’re going to have when you make offers to settle claims.”
–Chris Thorn, senior manager, payments and risk, Southwest Airlines

Not only have Southwest’s safety and workers’ compensation managers joined Thorn in his work with Riskonnect, business continuity has come knocking as well.

Thorn met in July with members of Southwest Airline’s business continuity team, which has a whole host of concerns, ranging from pandemics to cyber-attacks that it needs help in documenting the exposures and resiliency options for.

That Enterprise Risk Management approach will in the future also involve the system’s capability to provide risk alerts, telling Thorn and his team for example, that a hurricane or fast moving wildfire is threatening one of the company’s facilities.

Supply chain resiliency and managing certificates of insurance for foreign vendors are other areas where Thorn and his team plan to put the Riskonnect platform to good use.

“That’s all stuff that’s being worked on by us,” Thorn said.

“They’ve given us the tools, but we’re trying to develop how we’re going to use it,” he said.

This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Riskonnect. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.


Riskonnect is the provider of a premier, enterprise-class technology platform for the risk management industry.
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