Monday 17 February 2020

I am a keen runner. In April I will be taking part in the Manchester Marathon, and of an evening I can usually be found in the streets of Teesside ticking off miles and working through my training plan. 

During one of my recent early morning runs, somewhere around mile eight, I had a flash of inspiration for this blog. I started to make a mental list of similarities between running a marathon and embedding risk management. I know they say you can create an analogy for pretty much anything, but please humour me as I think there may be some mileage for this one (pun intended!) 

To succeed in both disciplines, you need to have the right tools for the job. There is no one size fits all, and adopting the wrong approach often ends in failure. Risk frameworks come in all shapes and sizes, from 3x3s to 10x10s and many others in between. It is crucial that the risk framework you adopt is right for your organisation. 

Quite often the best way to approach this is to engage with peers and colleagues and build your own. You might be lucky with an off the shelf approach, just like you might find your perfect trainers in the first shop, but in my experience the chances of success increase dramatically with research, conversation and comparison. 

Pacing is also key – set off too quickly and you can hit the wall or run out of steam. The best marathons, just like the most effective risk management frameworks, need to be planned and rolled out carefully. A ‘big bang’ approach and stakeholders can feel confused or disengaged with the process. This can cause them to work outside of the process or miss issues that should be identified and managed. 

Embedding a risk management framework takes time, commitment and dedication, and will no doubt need to be tweaked over time to ensure it remains relevant and fit for purpose. 

Finally, both risk management and running a marathon should give you a huge sense of achievement and satisfaction. When I crossed the finish line at the end of my first marathon, I wasn’t prepared for the shockwave of emotion that followed. Strong risk management should give you the same feeling. That feeling of pride that you have created something valued, which is used effectively across the organisation, and a sense of satisfaction that identified risks have been managed and mitigated. 

One thing that helped me when marathon training, was joining a local running club. ALARM offers a similar support network to risk management professionals across the country. 

Being part of a team helps keep you focused and engaged. My own experience has been hugely positive, and has helped me to shape my approach, delivered greater outcomes, and improved my personal development. If you would like to become more involved with ALARM, please get in touch. Similarly, if you fancy a run at Conference in Manchester in June, let me know! 

Chris Walker, ALARM Board Director (  

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