The enemy within! – Internal Risks

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Over the weekend, I picked up the phone and called a friend of mine who lives and works in Tanzania. We had not spoken in many months. You see, in the masculine world, we have an excuse for not calling (or texting) each other often. We assume: If they haven’t called, they are fine. If they were not fine, they would have called.


How wrong! Truth is, my friend hadn’t been fine. He’d been having body pains, was anaemic, and experiencing water retention in his body. He said he had seen a doctor and was told he had a condition called Lupus. “Lupus?”, “what’s that?”, I asked. He said Yes. “Lupus”. “Google it”, he said.

I admit. I had never heard of lupus before. After exchanging pleasantries and catching up for about 5 minutes, we cut the call. It was time to find out about “Lupus”.

From google, I learned that lupus is an auto-immune disorder in which the body’s immune system becomes hyper and attacks normal, healthy tissues. Lupus can cause damage to the joints, skin, kidneys, blood, heart, and lungs. The exact cause of Lupus is unclear but risk factors include hormones, genes, and the environment.

Lupus and Risk Management

Many of us are accustomed to having disease ailments originating from outside of our bodies. Interestingly, lupus (an auto-immune disorder) originates from within. It can be tempting to assume that risks only come from outside of your organisation but this isn’t always the case. Like lupus, some (actually many) risks originate from within.

What are Internal risks?

Internal risks originate from within the organization and arise during normal operations. Internal risks are often reliably forecastable, and thus can be avoided/mitigated. They are generated by either human, technical or physical factors. They are more common than we think and examples include:

  1. Risk of delivering substandard (poor quality) products to the customer.
  2. Risk of missing the delivery schedule because of poor planning and execution.
  3. Risk of unplanned work disrupting the work process flows and schedule.
  4. Risk of a team not working well together.
  5. Risk of labor shortages due to seasons
  6. Risk of poor morale and strikes
  7. Risk of using outdated software

The same tools used to enable an organisation to function better can turn out to become sources of risk.

Managing internal risks

Managing internal risks brings to the fore, the issue of risk tolerance. And risk tolerance is context-specific and depends (in part) on the organization – its size, culture, mission, and the specific nature of the risk itself. Small start-ups usually have more tolerance for risk than large, well-established organisations. In addition, private sector organisations are less risk-averse compared to government agencies.

At Summit Consulting, we believe all organisations need expert support if they are to tap fully into the benefits of robust internal risk management. That’s one of the reasons why we provide outsourced Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) services. For starters, we provide you with a risk maturity assessment so that you know your current level of enterprise risk management agenda, and the gaps (if any). To find out more, visit


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