Risk assessment Part 2: Check before you climb!

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Growing up as a young boy, blue-headed lizards could easily be often be seen around our home. It was fun. We would find them on walls of houses, tree branches, in gardens, on stones, and along footpaths.

One afternoon, as I sat with Mom under a tree shade in our courtyard, a blue lizard climbed up a pawpaw tree (about 10 metres from where we were seated). The lizard dashed a few metres up the tree and then stopped and looked at us. Using its front legs, the lizard raised its head (up and down) about four (4) times (It was like a man doing a push-up exercise of some sort).

The lizard moved up the pawpaw tree another 2 metres and did the same thing again (the push-ups). The little boy in me was dazzled. Immediately, pointing to the lizard, I asked Mom.

“What is that lizard was doing?”. “Why is it raising its head?” “I have seen many other lizards do (exactly) the same thing”.

Ingenious as all Moms are, she narrated to me a short tale. She said:

“A long time ago, blue-headed lizards had a grandpa”

“One day, lizard grandpa climbed on a weak tree branch. The branch broke. Grandpa lizard fell to the ground and hurt himself badly”

“Before he died, all his children gathered around him and grandpa lizard cautioned all his children never to climb on anything without checking its strength”. He instructed his children (and all their descendants) to always check (repeatedly) the strength of whatever they climb or hold onto”.

“From that day onwards, all (blue-headed) lizards check the strength of whatever they climb or hold onto to avoid nasty falls like that of lizard grandpa”.

My jaw dropped! At that time, the little boy in me never knew that, that was my first lesson on risk analysis and evaluation. The blue-headed lizard I saw that afternoon, was analysing and evaluating the risk of a nasty fall – according to Mom. Of course, like any tale, Mom’s tale was not necessarily true but it was educative. It was illustrative. And it has stuck with me to date. She was a genius!

 Risk assessment: Analysis, and evaluation

Fast forward, today, it’s a delight to conduct risk analysis and evaluation for organisations and teams, just like the blue-headed lizard of many years ago. To do this, we get teams to consider the likelihood and impact of an identified risk occurring.

The likelihood of a risk occurring is usually expressed and scored as: Almost certain (Score 5), Likely (Score 4), Possible (Score 3), Unlikely (Score 2), and Rare (Score 1).

Impact (or severity) of a risk occurring (on the intended objectives) is usually expressed and scored as Catastrophic (5), Major (4), Moderate (3), Minor (2), or Negligible (1).

When the scores of likelihood and impact are multiplied, the result is called risk magnitude. Depending on the risk appetite of an organisation, controls can be put in place to treat the risk(s).

To illustrate how a blend of likelihood and impact results in risk magnitude, see Fig 1 below.

Figure 1: The risk (probability x impact) of a man falling into a “death trap” on the road (Source: Internet photo)
Figure 1: The risk (probability x impact) of a man falling into a “death trap” on the road (Source: Internet photo)

There’s so much more to risk analysis and evaluation. Only inklings can fit in this short article. To experience more, many organisations contact us for effective risk management (in line with ISO 31000 Risk Management standard) and best practices.

We are a one-stop solution provider from project initiation, staff training, to facilitating risk framework documentation and implementation. And that’s not all, we also have an amazing tool that automates all risk management processes enterprise-wide. It’s an all in one. You get to pick what suits your needs.

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