Four faces of Risk | Part 4

Four faces of Risk | Part 4

6 minute read

The Lookout

AN EXCLUSIVE 4-PART SERIES
PART 4

The four faces of risk

There are four personas that risk teams must be able to play, in order to help their organisations confidently manage risks in the real world; where objectives, design and enablers must work together to protect and grow value. 

 

So, what is the role of the lookout?

This is the role where the risk team can take the long view, but also where you must consider the potential interruptions, provide alternate views and challenge management to think through the consequences, both likely and remote.

But, this is not about being contrarian for its own sake. The lookout needs to be able to bring views to the table that are valuable, useful and insightful. They must be based on realistic potential scenarios and consider the impacts of these events on what needs to happen today to prepare, prevent and respond.

Good lookouts are well connected with external trends and strategy and have the ability to connect these with internal operations and threats. It is not enough just to scan the horizon; you must be able to advise on where to go next.

So, how do you focus on your role as a lookout…

  1. Data, with context, has meaning…being an effective lookout means you must have a mechanism to collect and evaluate a lot of data, but you must also ensure you are connecting that data with organisational context to generate meaning and insight. Focus on creating meaning that confirms or challenges management views.

  2. Be prepared to be wrong…prediction is hard, preparation is better. Even the best forecasters will make errors, so be prepared for your views to be wrong, through continually seeking to challenge their validity, but also though making sure you are considering options for a range of potential outcomes.

Ultimately the role of the risk function is about conducting the orchestra, not playing the instruments. Choosing when to speak or hold back, choosing when to ask for more information or accept uncertainty is a key challenge for all risk professionals.


Choosing the right role to play at the right time is crucial, and being able to switch between these roles may seem difficult, but that is the challenge for the risk function. The reward – a seat at the table, and the trust of management to help them achieve their goals.

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