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Domain Qualities

Your information culture determines the effectiveness of your risk management efforts. Risk information systems should possess certain qualities to maximize performance. The following qualities were incorporated into Active Agenda's design and should help you to conceptualize Active Agenda's utility to your organization. Each quality includes a link to one or more modules used to achieve the respective quality (Note: module links require access credentials).

Accessibility

Active Agenda is somewhat recognizable to a typical corporate risk manager. It is virtually unrecognizable to an insurance broker. This is because risk managers and insurance people take a "top down" approach to managing risk and focus primarily on the financing of insurable risks. Frameworks like ISO 31000 tend to be written for, and implemented by, the risk and insurance function and fail to defer to the expertise of the operation. Operations encounter a multitude of risks that cannot be insured, they are most proximate to the hazards likely to increase the realization of risk, and they are charged with the direct and immediate physical/financial task of preventing or mitigating risk. Risk management tools need to be accessible to the operations level or they will fail.

Active Agenda enables the collaborative effort of a centralized risk management department ("top down," insurable risk) and the decentralized, cross-functional, operation ("bottom-up", insurable and uninsurable risks). The "framework modules" allow the centralized risk management department to track and organize the enterprise's risk management efforts, while the "operations modules" allow operations people to warn the organization about hazards as they prevent and mitigate loss in real time.

Accountability

When people are accountable, things get done. Active Agenda tracks accountability across the enterprise and allows you to quickly transfer accountabilities so that risks don't "fall through the cracks."

Efficiency

A widely accepted definition for the "Total Cost of Risk" includes five categories of cost: broker and agent fees, licenses and taxes, premiums, retained losses, and administration (internal and external). Risk management tools and services can introduce as much risk as they're intended to reduce. Risk management solution vendors often reinforce organizational fiefdoms that fragment risk management activities and make them highly inefficient. A common, simplified, communication framework is essential for optimizing management efficiency and effectiveness. Internal and external stakeholders should be collaborating around a framework that is managed and refined by your own organization.

Finance and IT departments tend to be the procurers of risk management solutions. These departments share a small appetite for risk, so both departments tend to buy on brand and blameworthiness (if necessary) rather than merit. This costs organizations considerable amounts of control and flexibility. Employees closest to the origination of loss are seldom consulted and their needs are rarely addressed. When they are addressed, it can take months or years to garner the attention of those responsible for system procurement (and tweaking). It's the old adage that "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM or Microsoft," and that mentality can kill efficiency.

Familiarity

Spreadsheets are familiar to risk managers and administrators around the globe. Active Agenda provides multiple links to this familiar data management tool.

Immediacy

Speed to truth saves money. The sooner people have access to information, the sooner prevention and mitigation can occur. Early action reduces the magnitude of loss. Active Agenda can display risk data entered by a supervisor in the field to a company lunchroom where everyone can participate in remedies as soon as information is collected. Active Agenda can be rapidly customized to collect new kinds of information so that new metrics can be posted and shared within hours instead of weeks or months.

Interactivity

Most employees know the failings of their own organization. Many of these employees scoff at the internal reports they are asked to believe (and support). Like the innocent child in the crowd (The Emperor's New Clothes(external link)), some of these employees have tried to share their knowledge "up the chain," only to have their efforts ignored. Active Agenda enables the voice of all people, at all levels, to be collected and seen. Active Agenda can collect data from employees via a company website, or some other Internet portal, without exposing the employee to the larger application. Employees can enter a suggestion, provide feedback, report an incident, pose a town hall question, or notify management that the company may be violating their own mission and values. This can be done anonymously and the information can appear on the lunchroom flat screen immediately. Active Agenda enables a truly interactive risk management dialog.

Interdependency

Managing risk from independent functions or silos almost guarantees recurring loss. Active Agenda facilitates Partnerships between internal departments and locations; and, external stakeholders.

Neutrality

There are few functions as heavily influenced by special interest as risk and insurance. The risk management function typically sources its solutions from the insurance brokerage industry. This industry is well known for business monikers including phrases like "Risk Services Provider." In reality, insurance brokers sell risk financing solutions which address five to twenty percent of the risk management process. Commissions in this industry are handsome and they are tied to the creation of barriers to exit(external link) (client control).

Barriers to exit are created by reinforcing dependency upon vendor controlled products and services. Active Agenda is built upon an open source framework (free as in freedom(external link)) so that costs remain low and accessible to organizations of any size, in any industry, from any region. The Active Agenda development framework allows us to offer domain solutions and customization capabilities that are neutral, so that you can deploy them on your choice of: operating system; database; and web server(external link). Our development framework also allows you to develop internal support resources and/or hire local resources you can trust.

Scalability

"It's the culture stupid" is an increasingly popular adage for explaining why many organizations experience poor performance. We agree, but we would add the word "information" to the adage. We believe it's the information culture that drives performance. We believe that performance is maximized when information is shared(external link).

Culture is defined and reinforced from the "top down." Leadership makes all the difference, but there should be a path from where you are, to where you want to be, and how you plan to get there. Active Agenda can be implemented by a single person performing a single role (e.g. Health and Safety Manager) without sharing methods with the larger organization. This is a common practice in our experience. Active Agenda can also be implemented as an enterprise-wide communication framework, where information is shared freely and openly. This is less common in our experience.

Active Agenda can be deployed at an isolated level (mid-management) within an isolated function (Health and Safety), or it can be deployed across all levels of the hierarchy (top to bottom) and all functions (side-to-side). You can use one module, or one hundred, or invent a few new ones of your own. The choice of how to implement a risk management tool should be yours. The tools you use should be flexible enough to adapt to the present and future state of your operating culture.

Simplicity

Managing risk is a complex task and it affects every part of an organization. Organizational hierarchies are too often built around domains rather than underlying tasks. Active Agenda was designed around simple definitions:
  • A risk is the potential for loss;
  • A loss represents a cost to your organization;
  • A hazard increases the likelihood of loss;
  • A peril is a cause of loss; and,
  • A control is implemented to prevent or mitigate a loss.

Active Agenda views any potential for loss as a risk and utilizes common tools to simplify administration and compliance. The Active Agenda interface is also standardized across many modules so that learning to navigate one module is learning to navigate them all.

Transparency

Character is established when nobody's watching. Character is reinforced when everybody is watching. Active Agenda is deployed in a browser for everyone to see and collaborate around. Risk Management activities can be shared and refined across a global enterprise.



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