25 September 2016

ORM: "All Threats & All Hazards"...

If you are new to the discipline of Operational Risk Management (ORM) your entry point in it's vast spectrum is a vital realization. The business problem that you are trying to solve with the utilization of an effective set of protocols, policy and risk management framework, may take years to accomplish. Do you have that much time?

Operational Risk Management 101 requires an "All Threats & All Hazards" point of view from day one. It also requires a protocol that your whole organization can understand, implement and put to work on a daily basis. Whether you are in banking, drilling for oil, flying an AV-8B out of hostile conditions or preparing for hundreds of people for a "State Dinner" on the South lawn; Operational Risk Management is the versatile discipline that will enhance your safety and security.

Practitioners of ORM know, that the next threat or the unexpected hazard is almost impossible to defend against. Once you realize that you are always in "degrees of vulnerability" your mindset changes about where to spend your activity, effort and resources to maximize your returns. Did anyone see the process of turning sub-prime mortgage portfolios into securities and selling them to investors on wall street, as a future threat to our economic prosperity? Yes. The same people bought instruments to hedge this risk in the form of "Credit Default Swaps" (CDS):
Credit default swaps are often used to manage the credit risk (i.e., the risk of default) which arises from holding debt. Typically, the holder of, for example, a corporate bond may hedge their exposure by entering into a CDS contract as the buyer of protection. If the bond goes into default, the proceeds from the CDS contract will cancel out the losses on the underlying bond.
Prudent Operational Risk practitioners look at the threat and invent the correct tool, product, or countermeasure to hedge the risk. It happens on Wall Street and it happens on the urban battlefields of cities across America. A US Justice Department researcher, Lester Shubin utilized a DuPont fabric intended for tires and developed the Kevlar bulletproof vest. This inventor passed away about seven years ago and is credited with helping to save the lives of over 3,000 law enforcement officers. A heart attack took the life of a man who understood the core value of "Operational Risk Management." Godspeed Lester.

Shubin and his advocates had many obstacles to overcome in order for their idea, invention and risk management habit to succeed. First there was testing, then the legal hurdles to get companies to manufacture vests because of liability and then finally getting street cops to use them. This practitioner of Operational Risk did not stop there. He was also one of the first to suggest the use of canines to find explosives.

If you enter the ORM discipline from a safety orientation the perspective may be different than one who enters it from a security orientation. What they both have in common is managing risk. The most effective 21st century experts in Operational Risk Management realize that an "All Threats & All Hazards" mindset is crucial to the entire profession. So how do you know where to invest your activity, effort and resources? That depends on your industry sector, the environment you are operating in and the pace of the processes being performed.

Being an effective Operational Risk expert today requires a multi-faceted, mosaic-based, pervasive protocol in order to be adaptive. Working and operating in the trading pit at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) or the deck of CVN-77 in the middle of the Arabian Sea both require the same set of skills, knowledge and training. If done effectively, it will save lives and millions of dollars simultaneously.

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