Risk management: Be prepared for the future

Written by Eva Normell, at Purple Ivy AB

Get ready for the future with a little help from Maja Angelou

Maja Angelou was a very wise woman. She once said that she spent her life “Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.” Talk about a quote that can carry us through these strange times!

That brings me to the subject of risk. Hand on your heart: Were you caught ‘unsurprised’ by this Covid tsunami? Were you one of the lucky ones to be prepared for its fast-evolving implications?

When your company did its latest risk assessment, how did you rate the risk of a pandemic?  It’s likely that a pandemic ended up on the ‘low probability’-‘high risk’ quadrant of your risk heat map.

Creating do-able plans are an integral part of completing risk assessments and shaping logical scenarios. Plan A could be ‘business as usual’ scenario and have sharp focus on the red-hot risks on your map that you want to prevent. Plan B could have a few tweaks to plan A. C, on the other hand, would describe ‘business unusual’ scenario and address the right-hand column of your risk heat map.

As I write these lines, a lot of people are working hard on developing a doable plan for Scenario C for their companies.  They are playing catch up either because:

  • Covid-19 was one of those risks that was so low on probability that companies had not bothered to prepare a business continuity plan supporting this event.


  • The company didn’t even capture that risk in their risk assessment and are now wondering why not.


  • The company never regarded proactive, strategic risk management as necessary.

Either way, it is no easy task to play catch up and get alignment with your team on a Plan C in these extenuating circumstances.

Can you dare to ignore risks? 

Risk management is crucial to business continuity. If the company doesn’t dare take risks, its business will stagnate. But if it takes risks without understanding their potential consequences, it could end up in a situation where it loses the confidence of its customers, employees, partners and other stakeholders.  Some risks have a huge potential consequence for the business if they were to happen, At the same time, they’re deemed unlikely to occur. Should companies have a plan for these? Hindsight is 20/20.

Risk management as a proactive tool

Risk management is the most efficient tool companies can use to work proactively. The more fast-moving and future-gazing the company is, the more benefit they will gain from it. Because it provides clear and straightforward support for decision making, it makes it easier to say no if they have to and gives a rational motivation to back up the decision.

Using the outcome

A risk assessment gives companies a proactive approach to getting the right prioritization for realizing a strategy. At the same time, the process highlights those risks that might be a showstopper and that companies need to prepare for with a continuity plan – Plan C . The result can be input to forward gazing plans for success and continuity plans for survival.

The process consists of six steps: setting the scope, identifying risks, prioritizing based on consequence and probability, control, following up and starting over.

Continuity management

Business continuity planning creates systems for prevention and recovery to deal with potential threats to a company. In addition to prevention, the goal is to enable ongoing operations before and during execution of disaster recovery. 

They say that it is common sense and I agree, it is sensible but not always common.

Are you reevaluating your approach to risk? Contact us to get support and improve your management or continuity management processes.

Lean Forward

Ever heard of the term stationarity? Though rooted in the rules of mathematics and statistics, it can come in very handy when explaining what needs to change in business thinking.

Stationarity is a way of finding solutions for the future by looking back at what was. In strategy terms, you can also call it ‘leaning back’. We can see this principle applied in all too many businesses, when sustainability strategies are based on a more-of-the-same approach, and targets are set a little bit higher than they were before.

But the thing is, our world is changing much too quickly and radically for that kind of approach to work anymore. Past performance can’t predict how we can succeed in the future. We need to adapt strategies by aligning them to what’s happening in the world. We need to lean forward, not back.

Human’s impact on the environment, limits to growth, an interconnected world and shifting demographics are all changing the business game plan. These drivers shape how our society is structured, which is bound to have a huge impact on the dynamics of your market and value chain, as well as on people’s expectations on your business.

Through the impacts of these drivers, your business is entering unchartered territory. And the fun thing is that corporate sustainability teams have a huge role to play in helping your company succeed in this new business landscape. Scania, Ericsson, and Electrolux  are all good examples of companies that are integrating sustainability thinking into their core processes and defining top-level business strategies in the context of their roles in a changing world. Integrating sustainability is helping them carve their place in a new world.

In our posts, my Purple Ivy colleagues and I are going to explore how companies can benefit from leaning forward and developing a deeper understanding of their role in changing times. We’re convinced that doing so is the only way to build a flexible, visionary organization which can weather the storms ahead and come out stronger on the other side.

We look forward to receiving your feedback!

From Purple Ivy’s Astrid von Schmeling

Act together

Future-Focused Materiality: According to a recently published statement by 11,000 scientists from 153 countries, the world still has enough time to get its act together.

There are positive signs all over that show that change is underway. US $7 trillion has been divested from fossil-based assets in the last 5 years. The world population is showing signs of stabilization as the fertility rate has almost halved to 2.4 births per woman in the last two generations.

However, scientists agree that the world is in a state of climate emergency, that the pace of change needs to increase by multi-folds. Where do your opportunities and responsibilities in this transition lie?

Know how to navigate the future at https://lnkd.in/fPsh6Zh and find the statement at http://bit.ly/2Nujeh2

#materiality hashtag#futurefocused Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash

Generation Z

Future-Focused Materiality: Gen Z is the generation born in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Their world is uniquely different from previous generations because of global interconnections, technology, and social and environmental awareness. Based on a survey of 2000 Americans between ages 18-22, GlobeScan and BBMG‘s latest insight report details 5 strategies that can help brands become aware and respond to radically different expectations of Generation Z.

Gen Z is one most important demographic groups of the future. In what ways is the world and are its people changing? What factors are shaping up the expectations of these groups and how may businesses respond to them?

Know how to navigate the future at https://lnkd.in/fPsh6Zh and find the report at http://bit.ly/37mf8j0

#materiality hashtag#futurefocused Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Future-Focused Materiality

Towards 2030 fossil fuel production must decline to achieve Paris Agreement targets but by how much and how does fossil fuel production in countries look like in the next decade?

The latest research report by SEI — Stockholm Environment Institute shows that by 2030, the world will produce 120% more fossil fuels than what is needed to remain below a temperature rise of 1.5 degree Celsius and 50% more fossil fuels in the case of 2-degree temperature rise.

This means that the world over the expectations and demands on investment in renewables and disinvestment from fossil fuels will change. What that change would look like would depend on many other drivers. Question is how companies can enable and surf this transition to thrive in the future?

Know how to navigate the future at https://lnkd.in/fPsh6Zh and find the report at http://bit.ly/37sNDVi