Who Knew the Risk? Everyone But You.

The U.S. Air Force found itself in a particular situation in the 1970s: it had complex programs but nobody was aware of how those programs worked outside of the people working on them. In short, the collective knowledge of those programs was limited to the managers of the programs–and they likewise were the only people who knew the risks. So the Air force had program managers who all knew the risks existed, but weren’t communicating to higher level personnel and certainly weren’t communicating between themselves. The Air Force needed to first get people to share the information they had about risk, assess the probability of impact, and then determine the scale of that impact. As this article on Ventana research explains, the problems identified by the U.S. Air Force aren’t unlike the problems encountered in organizations today: Like the Air Force, any midsize or larger company is often at risk because those in charge do not have a way of comprehensively monitoring and managing the risks a company faces. The impact is multiplied because individual managers have no idea which of the risks of others could have a significant impact on their own part of the operation. Even if some of the risks are discussed from time to time in review meetings, it doesn’t mean that the organization has anything more than a vague sense of which are the most important. Enter “prediction markets.” Prediction Markets are speculative markets created initially to determine events in politics or economics. As applied to risk, these markets can gather information and accurate perspectives on elements that can affect an organisation. This can be completed by sending surveys out to key players in an organisation (front line workers, developers, managers, etc.) to determine how they view the health of a project. Combine these results with a strong risk assessment process, and you begin to develop a better picture of what risks exist in what areas of the business, and how to address them.

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