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Risk Management: Unleashing the Power of Futures Thinking

Organizational risk management has often focused on identifying and mitigating immediate threats. This is hardly surprising! However, as the business environment becomes increasingly complex and unpredictable, there is a growing need for more forward-thinking approaches. One method to facilitate this is Futures Thinking, which helps organizations to understand and anticipate long-term scenarios, resulting in more informed and resilient decision-making.

The following steps show you how to apply Futures Thinking to organizational risk management:

1. Trend Identification and Analysis

The first step in this process involves identifying and analyzing key trends that might impact your organization. In the context of futures thinking, trends are significant shifts or changes that occur over a certain period, and can be categorized into several broad areas, often referred to as the STEEP categories:

  • Social: Changes in social structures, behaviors, values, demographics, or lifestyles.
  • Technological: Developments in technology that could influence your organization or industry.
  • Economic: Economic trends such as shifts in the global, national, or local economy, changes in consumer behavior, or fluctuations in the market.
  • Environmental: Environmental changes or issues, including those related to climate change, resource scarcity, or sustainability.
  • Political: Political developments, such as changes in policy, law, or governance, both domestically and internationally.

Gathering data about these trends involves researching current events, reading industry reports and academic papers, consulting with experts, and using data analytics and predictive modeling tools. 

Following is a simple STEEP analysis for a company that manufactures electric vehicles:

  • Social: There is an increasing trend towards environmental consciousness and sustainable living.
  • Technological: Advancements in battery technology have made electric cars more efficient and affordable.
  • Economic: Government incentives for electric car ownership and declining costs of production have made it more profitable to produce and sell electric cars.
  • Environmental: Stringent emissions regulations and increasing concerns about air pollution are driving the demand for electric cars.
  • Political: Government support for electric cars through subsidies and tax credits and a focus on reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

2. Scenario Planning

Scenario planning takes the trends identified and analyzed in step one and uses them to construct a set of plausible future scenarios.

A scenario is a narrative description of a potential future state. These scenarios aren't predictions; instead, they represent a range of possible futures, helping to visualize different ways the future could unfold.

The scenarios should vary in nature to cover a broad spectrum of possibilities, from optimistic to pessimistic outcomes and everything in between. This range helps account for uncertainty and prepares the organization for various potential futures. 

For example, our electric car manufacturer may consider how the economic and political trends might affect the level of competition, and they construct these scenarios:

  • Best Case Scenario: No new significant competitors enter the local market in the next five years.
  • Worst Case Scenario: Three new significant competitors enter the local market in the next five years.

3. Implication Analysis

For each scenario, identify the potential risks and opportunities that could arise for your organization or project.

In the example above, the best-case scenario might lead to supply shortages and inventory problems. The worst-case scenario might lead to a price war and reduced profitability. These risks then feed into your normal risk management process. 

The power of Futures Thinking lies in its ability to make uncertainties explicit. It encourages organizations to question their assumptions, to challenge their understanding of what is possible, and to rethink their strategies in light of potential changes. This process fosters an open-minded and adaptable mindset that is crucial for navigating the complex and unpredictable landscape of the future.

Risk Register by ProjectBalm

Managing risks, whether they're immediate or long-term, becomes significantly simpler with an efficient tool. This was our motivation behind the development of Risk Register by ProjectBalm.

Our objective was to automate superior risk management practices, and to accomplish this through a sleek, user-friendly interface that complements your workflow rather than hindering it. Risk Register is designed to streamline the process of identifying, analyzing, mitigating, and monitoring risks, making it more effortless and effective than before.

If you're well-versed in risk management, Risk Register will resonate with your preferred working style. If you're a novice, our comprehensive guides and tutorial videos will walk you through the entire risk management process, providing ample practical examples.

Risk Register aligns seamlessly with risk management standards such as ISO 31000, and is also adaptable for governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) programs like Sarbanes-Oxley and PCI. Needless to say, Risk Register facilitates the easy representation of your data on a dashboard.

ops and risks.PNG

Over the last few years, we've grown to become the most popular risk management solution in the Jira marketplace and we are now an Atlassian Platinum Partner. Why not try out Risk Register by ProjectBalm for yourself?

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Marketplace Partner
Marketplace Partners provide apps and integrations available on the Atlassian Marketplace that extend the power of Atlassian products.
May 18, 2023

This is a very informative article. Thank you for sharing.

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