What makes a good risk manager? This was a discussion I participated in recently and most of the responses suggested a good risk manager had to have knowledge and ability – and needed to know who, how, why, when, where, how often, etc.

I agree a good risk manager should have each of the things mentioned above, however these are only part of what makes a good risk manager.

So I asked the following questions…What makes a good surgeon? A good race car driver? A good golfer?

They all need knowledge and ability and they need to know who, how, why, when, where, how often, etc. But real-world results and lessons learned clearly reveal these are only part of what makes a good surgeon, a good race car driver and a good golfer. Results and lessons learned clearly reveal each will only succeed if they have the “right tools”.

A good risk manager needs the “right tools” to ensure all appropriate people have access to the knowledge they need (the “right information”) and the “right tools” to measure awareness and accountability at the individual level…because remember if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it and we are talking about risk management. A good risk manager also needs to equip other people with the “right tools” to perform risk assessments (especially anonymous assessments and surveys). People clearly need the “right tools” to report red flags, threats, concerning behaviors, etc. And good risk managers need the “right tools” to get the “right information” (organization specific training, policies, roles, incident reports, risk assessments, documentation, etc.) to the “right people” so they can “do the right things”.

All you have to do is stop and take a good look at the headlines and you will see story after story where an organization failed to prevent a preventable tragedy/incident because they did not have the “right tools” to get the “right information” (which exists in nearly every incident) to the “right people” in the “right place” at the “right time” with the “right documentation” so people could have “done the right things”.

Risk managers face a global and organizational Gapidemic – meaning organizations have too many gaps in risk management and prevention – and a good risk manager is one that realizes they need the “right tools” to equip them to eliminate dangerous and costly gaps so they can prevent preventable incidents, expensive consequences, embarrassing headlines, big fines, damaging lawsuits and horrible tragedies.

And one more piece of valuable wisdom comes from Albert Einstein:

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.

I believe most people want to do something and want to “do the right things”, but good risk managers will have to equip themselves and others with the “right tools” or their organization and their people will continue to be in reaction mode rather than proactively preventing preventable incidents and tragedies.