This specialized process (sustainment risk management) needs a midwife to help give birth to healthy risk statements.
- · Keep a list of concerns that are not quite risks yet. The team becomes more open in sharing concerns if they know they don’t have to immediately declare them risks, and the risk integrator has a to-do list to help keep track
- · Keep personal (not-to-be-shared) metrics on how well your team identifies risks, how quickly they come up with mitigation plans after identifying risks, and how often concerns become risks.
- · Review the entire list often, not just during the organization’s annual or semi-annual review, ask questions, go to technical discussions and take note of concerns that might become risks.
“IF the number of VHF radio field testers falls below 30, THEN sorties will start to become unavailable.”
Your monthly sustainment risk meeting can be boring to managers and terrifying to the new team member. It is the most likely to not reap immediate tangible rewards. Thus, there is a great temptation each month to cancel or delay it.
It is the team’s regular chance to get their emerging concerns in front of top management. However terrifying, it is everyone’s chance to discuss what needs to happen next and in the future to mitigate or eliminate risks. It is the top managers’ chance to direct and influence the day to day priorities of their teams.
Even if the meeting turns out to be short because there is nothing to discuss, that tells the managers something too. And it is probably not that there is nothing to discuss.
Most importantly, it is a monthly re-indoctrination of the entire team to the warfighter’s priorities.
At the meeting, the front seats need to be occupied by the decision-makers. This includes the heads of each department.
Each department will take turns proposing new risks or changes and updates to old risks. The critical pieces of a well-written risk statement are:
a) A very short but descriptive title to make it easy to discuss such as, “VHF radio field tester shortage”. The title needs to be unique so that it does not get confused with other risk statements. It must be in the form of an if-then statement. This can be confusing or even overlooked until the meeting. Press to create the if-then statement. If it is missing, your team probably does not fully understand the risk. Try to include a single word that describes the impact to the warfighter such as “available”.
b) A numbered summary of mitigation steps such as 1) Repeat 2015 survey of testers. 2) Increase tester production at the repair depot. 3) Replace all testers by 2020.
c) A matrix describing the consequences, likelihood, and timing of the impacts. Remember, if the impacts are already occurring, it is not a risk to be planned for. It is a current problem to be addressed immediately.
Hold the meeting. Keep the sustainment process working.