How to discuss risks with decision makers?
When talking about the risks in a recent Board paper with two SLT members, one of them said something very interesting.
The risks section SHOULD make us feel uncomfortable.
The CTO's view was that if we highlight the things that are keeping us up at night and can demonstrate how well we have thought them through they will trust us more.
I found this interesting as I at times see risks being discussed in a ‘tick a box' fashion or alternatively being played down to reduce political rather than practical risk.
Given his view was so clear and strong vs what I so often see, I wanted to unpack his reasoning to help you too …
If we do share what keeps us up at night three things will happen. We
- can be confident that the leadership will trust us
- will enjoy a much more robust discussion that leads to a better outcome for the business
- might just sleep better
If, alternatively, we are ‘gilding the lily' by only discussing the positives, leaders won’t trust us – and neither they should.
In his words: if we play it safe we would let both them and ourselves down as it demonstrates that we
- haven't thought our proposition through deeply enough to be taken seriously
- aren't ready to handle the inevitable risks we will face in delivering on our commitments
- lack the courage to lead
This was food for thought to me and will push me to focus more intently on how risks are articulated in communication I help my clients prepare.
What about you?
How openly do you discuss the risks as you see them when lying awake at night?
I hope that helps. More next week.
PRESENTED BY DAVINA STANLEY
I love what I do.
I help senior leaders and their teams prepare high-quality papers and presentations in a fraction of the time.
This involves 'nailing' the message that will quickly engage decision makers in the required outcome.
I leverage 25+ years' experience including
- learning structured thinking techniques at McKinsey in Hong Kong in the mid 1990s before coaching and training their teams globally as a freelancer for a further 15 years
- being approved to teach the Pyramid Principle by Barbara Minto in 2009
- helping CEOs, C-suite leaders and their reports deeply understand their stakeholder needs and communicate accordingly
- seeing leaders cut the number of times they review major papers by ~30% and teams cut the amount of time they take to prepare major papers by ~20%*
- watching senior meetings focus on substantive discussions and better decisions rather than trying to clarify the issue
My approach helps anyone who needs to engage senior leaders and Boards.
Recent clients include 7Eleven, KPMG, Mercer, Meta, Woolworths.
Learn more at www.clarityfirstprogram.com
(*) Numbers are based on 2023 client benchmarking results.