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How to Discover the Culprit of Risk

Every risk scenario has its “culprit,” the invisible cause that eludes the risk owner’s powers of observation. And without discovering the real issue behind a problem, we risk reoccurring problems, reruns of past injuries. That is why Harry Hall offers these tips for getting to the root cause (the culprit) of risk.

A Bug’s Death

Hall relates the story of a friend’s damaged roses. Upon inquiring about the damage, Hall learned that an insect was likely the culprit and that his friend had been advised to let nature take its course. But Hall recommended checking the plants at different times of the day. Lo and behold, the perpetrator was discovered to be a wasp-like creature called the rose sawfly.

4 Recommendations

The moral of the story is that any risk owner is like a homeowner. Every homeowner has goals related to their home, such as growing beautiful roses. However, not every associated risk scenario will be intelligible to its owner, meaning that help must sometimes come from outside of the organization. To quote Hall, “Know your limitations.”

On other occasions, we throw our best resources at the risk but to no avail. This is a classic case of “using the wrong controls.” Only the right information will point us to the resources necessary to manage risk. And sometimes, like Hall’s friend, we just ignore the problem in the hope that it will soon disappear. But remember, prevention is the cure! An easy problem to fix is one that gets nipped in the bud (to use the appropriate plant metaphor). Other times, we have the knowledge necessary to identify the risk but don’t know how to use that knowledge properly–another cause to call for help.

And lastly, just because we’re capable of identifying a risk doesn’t mean we’ll have the means to control / manage it. Likewise, perhaps you know how to control the risk but would only trust an expert to do the dirty work. In any case, don’t let risk culprits “bug” you. Get to the bottom of it or get help.

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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