My view - Refreshed and ready

Monday 19 July 2021

As I am writing this I am on my last day of self-isolation following an escape to foreign shores, where it was lovely to see and feel the sun every day. It was a working holiday but still lovely to have a real break from the computer screen, something I think we all need. I feel refreshed and ready to tackle a summer of activity for Lincolnshire County Council. 

One of the main activities for my team is the review of our risk appetite with our corporate leadership team. This is taking place this month, ahead of an update to the organisation's risk strategy by the end of the year. The journey on risk appetite started for us back in 2011, when it was set and formed as part of the risk management strategy.

At that time we had four categories and Lincolnshire's appetite was 'creative and aware'. In 2018 the strategy was reviewed and in line with changing work practices a fifth category, 'opportunistic', was added.

A number of sessions were held with the senior leadership groups to explore how the corporate risk appetite related to services and operational activity. This work identified a disconnect between the corporate line of creative and aware, and the organisational practices which senior leaders felt was more on the cautious side, for example, procurement practice.

Work started on delving deeper into the disconnect and as part of our work with directorates, risk appetite was explored as part of the regular risk management cycle. As often happens during this kind of work, we then underwent some major changes. These included a significant change in corporate leadership, new directorates,  a pandemic, and a whole council transformation programme. It is now time to revisit this piece of work.

Our approach involves sending out a questionnaire ahead of the workshop asking participants to rank five risk statements from our main risk categories, across our five risk appetite statements. Prior to holding the workshop with our corporate leadership team, the risk statements have been updated to better reflect the ambition for our council and the new corporate plan. This approach was also trialled with a couple of directorates and services to obtain feedback and to help refine the approach.

The results from the questionnaires are collated and analysed. We focus on the sharp differences for discussion at the workshop, rather than going through each response. This approach was part of the trials and has produced some really positive feedback as it concentrates the time on what matters. This is always an issue when dealing with senior leaders. 

In the exercise with our own resources directorate, the appetite remained as 'creative and aware' but was very closely followed by 'cautious'. Considering the nature of the services involved - legal, audit, finance, pensions, and assurance services – that wasn’t too surprising. It will be interesting to see what the outcome from the work with the whole Council will be. 

In contrast when the session was completed by public health, it was a close call between ‘creative and aware’ and ‘opportunistic’, something we are seeing more of. This is a start of a change in attitude to risk.  How this will be reflected in the work with the corporate team remains to be seen.

I will keep you posted on our progress. If anyone would like to find out more about how we test our risk appetite at Lincolnshire, do get in touch with me, at or the ALARM office at

Mandy Knowlton-Rayner, Insurance and Risk Lead, Lincolnshire County Council and ALARM Communications Panel member and stronger lead.

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