While risk frameworks, top 10 risks, risk governance, risk quantification and even--Lord help us--compliance often seem the priorities for those leading enterprise risk management (ERM) initiatives, risk knowledge is often overlooked. I say "knowledge" as I believe you won't get far down the road with your ERM strategy unless you have the requisite knowledge and understanding (a bit of wisdom wouldn't hurt) of what's necessary to manage risk effectively.
There is no shortage of opinions about the knowledge necessary for success, yet few recognize that it often shouldn't come off the shelf. In other words, the current and desired cultural traits of a company should drive all the elements of risk strategy, including risk knowledge.
Risk culture, being a subset of overall culture, takes risk knowledge down to the daily risk governance and risk attitude you want established and reinforced in your company. To the extent you don't understand best practices on the one hand and the risk profile and priorities of your company on the other, is the extent to which you're likely to ultimately crash and burn your plan.
Risk knowledge is facilitated by communications, training, continuing education and information sharing and powered by incessant curiosity. Adherents demonstrate unrelenting desire to gain the knowledge necessary to excel and enhanced by providers that understand these elements and how they relate to successful enterprises. An increasing number of knowledge providers are developing the landscape that allows for continuous learning in more cost-effective and convenient ways than ever before. Fallacy debunked.
Among others, the Risk and Insurance Management Society Inc. (RIMS) has taken the education needs of risk stakeholders to heart. ERM-related offerings through multiple channels have grown in the last five years and now represent learning opportunities that are rivaled by few.
Of course, they offer many other insurance- and risk-related products, but the important thing is the variety of ways in which consumers can access knowledge. These channels run the gamut from online courses to online webinars, day seminars, educational sessions at its annual conference and customized training given on-site at a buyer's premises.
Distance learning has, of course, been available in various forms for some time, but never have so many choices in the ERM category existed.
RIMS is not the only source of risk knowledge. In fact, there are many webinars sponsored by a wide variety of organizations, most particularly the large consulting houses, larger brokers and the big four accounting firms. These often free, always short and many times spot-on sources of learning are just in time in terms of the latest topics and challenges in the discipline. This same group of providers is often the sponsors of more involved, lengthier conferences and seminars that, while more costly and time consuming, are able to deliver deeper and wider content that can be even more valuable.
Needless to say, risk knowledge delivery is innovating and growing. Are you up to speed on what you need to know to succeed? If not, your choices to close the gap are many. Go forth and learn.
CHRIS MANDEL is the president of Excellence in Risk Management LLC, a long-term risk management leader and former president of RIMS.
September 1, 2011
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