Risk Alternatives for Entrepreneurs

Risk Identification, Prioritization, and Execution (RIPE)

Do you want to do a better job of identifying and addressing threats and opportunities, so that your limited resources can go further? Our signature RIPE engagement helps you improve operations, reduce threats, and grow revenues by finding new sources of opportunity. 

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Structured Executive Coaching

How would you like to have your chief executive officer, chief operating officer, or chief financial officer engage in structured, in-person or phone coaching focused on each element of business function? Risk Alternatives provides a series of 12 monthly coaching sessions focused on operations, IT, finances, talent management, reputation management, sales, risk management, compliance, planning and visioning, governance, and external forces that could impact the business.

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Facilitated Risk Inventory (FRI)

This is our “RIPE-Lite” engagement. We help you and your staff develop an inventory of your threats and opportunities in all functional areas of your organization.

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Risk Management Champion (RMC) Training

Some businesses either can’t afford a full risk management engagement right now or want to dip a toe in the water before making a greater commitment. So how would you like two of your staff to learn about risk management for much less than the usual RIPE investment?

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At Risk Alternatives LLC, our mission is to make communities stronger by building vibrant, sustainable, risk-aware organizations. Here’s how we do it.

The Risk Alternatives Approach

Risk Management. Great organizations don’t avoid risk. Risk is simply uncertainty, and anything worth pursuing involves uncertainty. Risks can be negative or positive, so risk management always involves threats and opportunities. To address risks, we help you apply a four-step process:

1 – IDENTIFY threats and opportunities faced by the organization across all of its functions.

2 – PRIORITIZE risks according to likelihood, speed of onset, and magnitude of impact.

3 – RESPOND to these priorities by researching ambiguous risks, avoiding unacceptable risks, reducing the potential negative impact of unavoidable risks, piloting opportunities, and shifting some risk to others where appropriate (using insurance, contract provisions, joint ventures, etc.).

4 – ASSESS and IMPROVE, by evaluating how your responses have played out and how each risk can be better managed in the future.

We call this process the “risk cycle,” and it is one of three tools that effective businesses use to implement a risk management program. The other two tools are the “risk inventory” and the “risk register.”

About the Risk Inventory, Risk Register, and Risk Cycle.

The first step in developing a strong risk management process is to take inventory of the threats and opportunities you face. Until you do, you’re in uncharted territory. You might think you know what is behind the next tree, but you can’t be sure. A risk inventory is a simple term for a simple concept. A risk inventory is a structured, formal brainstorming designed to look for risks – things that could go wrong, and things that could go right.

Why begin with the risk inventory? At the beginning of a risk management program, the first substantial task is to understand the company’s current position. We want to find out where we are, so that we can make reality-based decisions about where we want to go and how to get there.

A risk inventory will identify many potential risks. In an average business, a team of five taking an inventory will likely generate more than 100 items. The next step is to boil those down. Some items will be mistakes – people will identify “risks” that, after discussion, don’t really exist. Some will be duplicates. Some will be mirror images of each other: one person will identify a “threat” about internal financial controls, while another will identify that same threat as an “opportunity” to improve. Still, at the end of a risk inventory, a business may have 50 or more items on its list. As a result, we train the company to prioritize those risks, so that the most important items move to the top of the list.

Those most important items form the foundation for the next tool: the risk register. The risk register is a simple Excel spreadsheet that lists each risk, ranks it by priority, notes who “owns” that risk within the organization, describes what the owner will do next to address that risk, and identifies when the organization should check in again about that risk.

The risk register becomes a dynamic tool for keeping tabs on threats and opportunities throughout the business, driving awareness and accountability. Senior staff can review the risk register periodically to see exactly where the business stands on each issue. As risks are addressed, they may change to a lower priority or even leave the register altogether.

Finally, the risk register becomes an important guide and resource in fulfilling the risk cycle. After identifying and prioritizing risks, the business responds to those risks to reduce threats and grow opportunities. Staff refer to the risk register in staff meetings. As they respond to risks, staff members assess their progress and improve over time, modifying the risk register to account for shifting priorities. But they don’t stop there. Instead, they identify and prioritize new risks as they arise, adding them to the risk register. They respond. They assess and improve. In short, the business creates a virtuous risk cycle of accountability and resilience.

Process Improvement.

Most threats and opportunities come from within the organization. In fact, after working with some of the best organizations of the 20th century, management consultant Peter Drucker once observed that up to 90 percent of activity in even the best run organizations is waste. Risk Alternatives helps organizations see those risks and deal with them. To do that, we use Lean Management techniques to help customers build better processes through continuous process improvement. We help companies look at their operations from the perspective of their customers, then help them maximize value and minimize waste throughout the organization. If you would like to learn more about our Lean Management tools, just ask.