A short while ago I posted about Diversity in Risk Thinking. The post discussed the dangers of group thinking and the importance to have diversity of thought. Now whether you are in an organisation that has advanced with its risk management during this pandemic or not, there is still a lot that can be done to help bring businesses to a stabilised status four months on. If you are a Quality Professional of any capacity in any size business, go get a cup of coffee and read on, this is for you!

Risks Ain’t Wot They Used T’be is a a very true statement. Last week, the Chartered Quality Institute in Partnership with Strategic Arrow hosted a webinar for the Global CQI Network. I had the pleasure of facilitating the webinar and be part of the conversation, because it could not be any more relevant today. So Who is Strategic Arrow, who are the speakers and what is this framework that Quality Professionals have a key part in?

Estelle Clark was Executive Director of Policy and Head of Profession at the CQI, leading on the recognition of operational governance as a discipline, and setting global standards for the Quality Profession. Previously she held a number of senior HSEQ roles in a multiplicity of sectors. She is one of the faces behind the inception of the International Quality Awards in 2017.

Emmanuel Lazaridis is a thought leader in tech and digital change drawing on his legal specialisation in corporate and information law to guide companies towards purpose-driven governance. He led the CQI to GDPR compliance and supported the creation of their new digital strategy.

Both Estelle and Emmanuel are the founders of Strategic Arrow, a consultancy that helps organisations pick the right Arrow to drive sustainability in their strategies.

So why is this specific for us Quality Professionals? In this post I will share my understanding of the core framework that Estelle and Emmanuel shared during the webinar. This framework is helpful for every professional involved in any operating model, at any level, regardless of the size of the organisation. I, for instance, know that my brain is most efficient when I approach any topic in a process approach. The beauty of this framework is that it offers just that. A simple process that takes business from one stage to the next, defining each stage and the risks associated with it. I will refer to it as the RRR Framework.

Three Phases of Return to Work
Three Phases of Return to Work

Emmanuel kicked off by explaining the framework, explaining three phases of return to work after lockdown. Defining the stages helps any business address or focus on different types of risks in the journey of returning to business.

Let’s look into a scenario in this sequential approach. If you work for Company A that furloughed their employees, bringing them back from furlough has specific set of risks that an organisation must address. Companies must acknowledge and deal with the wellbeing of their staff both physical and mental; establishing programmes in place to build their trust to come back to work. Once the team is back and operating, the risks associated with ‘back in business’ evolves. While building trust is a never ending exercise, the risks associated with loss of memory of how processes work and operate become present. Businesses have to ensure they factor in time for retraining and shifting focus to allow employees to settle back into what they are good at. At this point, the business can be in a position to bring the entire team on the journey to rebuild and drive sustainability. Keep in mind that the risks associated with this phase differ. A business can be rebuilding everything from square one, while another business can be pivoting to a completely new model and new offerings.

The three phases are:

  • Resumption
  • Recovery
  • Rebuilding

Quality Professionals have a central role to play in all three phases. But here is the trick: Working under the assumption that each business understands what Quality Professionals can bring to the table is an assumption that will make the journey an uphill one. We must take it upon ourselves to offer, educate and provide solutions to organisations at every stage of their journey. No one has a better exposure to company’s operational risks, processes strengths, and the operating model’s gaps better than Quality Professionals. This is the time to bring this knowledge to the executive board and help them shape up their strategies at every phase.

A very simplistic approach to the different risks Company A has to address:

  1. Recovery: Quality Professionals can help build a health and safety programme to ensure businesses are ready to welcome the workforce to a safe environment and in line with Government Guidelines
  2. Resumption: Quality Professionals can help bring quick training huddles alongside subject matter experts to help recover any loss in memory for teams who have just returned after weeks of being off.
    !!Secret Tip!! Remember that particular process you were always frustrated it had lots of unnecessary work and you could not get your stakeholders to change their behaviour? If you have the right resources, now is your time to remove these unnecessary steps and bring the recovery to a more efficient place than it ever used to be.
  3. Rebuilding: To drive sustainable success you must have a resilient operating model. Bring on your assurance hat and work with the Executive Board to share successes of what is working well and fast, and highlight the areas that requires attention.

So we defined each phase and we understood what could be done at each phase, now what? Estelle and Emmanuel shared that the framework helps organisations adjust and respond to crisis at hand in an effective way. Managing risks in normal times is very different from managing risks in a crisis. Stakeholders, Stakeholders, Stakeholders are key to success of being ready to handle such risks.

What I really appreciated in the conversation is how Estelle kicked off the conversation by focusing on the role of Quality Professionals throughout this entire situation. How? Simply looking into the Principles of Risk Management as defined by ISO31000:2018

  • Organisations operate in an uncertain world
  • There is always a chance that events won’t go according to plan
  • Every step in managing a new product, service or process involves uncertainty and an element of risk
  • We can reduce uncertainty and manage risk by using a systematic approach to risk management
PMBOK Guide 6th Edition
PMBOK Guide by PMI

If you are a quality professional in a projectised environment, then look into the definition of Risk Management in the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide published by the Project Management Institute. Risk is a key knowledge area that each project management practitioner must understand and plan for within a project to systematically address the uncertain environment.

The best mitigation still remains placing Quality at the centre of your business

Estelle Clark, Strategic Arrow 2020

Having Quality at the centre of businesses help address issues related to safety, cost, delivery time and schedule, security and morale. Addressing all of these areas help in de-risking resilience and sustainability. Estelle introduced 2 Uberisks that should be accounted for.

Uberisk 1: Disruption across chain

Uberisk 2: Disruption of culture

Working with the competency framework of the CQI should drive all Quality Professionals to step forward at these times and bring their skills and knowledge to the table and help rebuild their organisations.

CQI Competency Framework & the Role of QPs

There was a lot more covered during this conversation last week. If you are a member of the CQI, head over to the professional development section and you can view a recording of the webinar. Of course you can always contact Estelle and Emmanuel directly.

In April, Early on in the pandemic, I wrote an article about the role of Quality Professional during Covid-19. I would encourage you to take a look and see if you can pick up one or two things you can implement at your job today.

I hope you enjoyed this blog. Enter your email below and click Subscribe to receive new posts straight to your inbox. You can follow me on LinkedIn or say hello 👋 on twitter.

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