Six Top Tips to get the most out of risk workshops

Six Top Tips to get the most out of risk workshops

Have you been asked to attend a risk workshop recently? What were your thoughts? Too busy? Why me? It’s just a waste of time? Here are a few tips to help you and the other participants get the most out of the experience…

1. Find out what is it all about and why you need to attend
Most of us who agree to attend a risk workshop would expect – as a minimum – to have a clear objective, supported by background, the methodology to be followed and a description of the other attendees (and their roles).  Attendees should expect to receive this in time to consider the contents and undertake any pre-work/pre-reading that has been flagged.  Find out why your input is required and if you’re not convinced its good use of your time, discuss this with the facilitator.

2. If you are required, do “turn up” to the workshop itself.
Obviously, there is a need to physically turn up.  Many workshops are compromised from the beginning because attendees turn up late, are ill-prepared or send undeclared proxies who are unfamiliar with the context for the workshop.  More are compromised because some attendees are physically but not mentally present. Working concurrently on other pieces of work in the session, taking work related calls or leaving early to attend other meetings affects the dynamics and ultimate success of the session itself.

3. Do listen to each other.  
Risk workshops have prescribed timescales to them, and the best use of time is invariably to discuss new areas of uncertainty or ‘deep dive’ into particular problem areas rather than spend time reiterating points already made and captured.

4. Don’t concentrate on ‘froth and bubble’. 
Time can seep away whilst language is nuanced or discussion drifts into unrelated territory. The role of the facilitator is to concentrate the minds of the group on substance over format, find common ground on those risks where the risk identification and assessment can be agreed upon and have contingencies in place to deal with any known “elephants in the room”. It is your job to help make this happen.

5. Don’t spend the workshop concentrating on managing current issues.
Remember that risks are not the same as issues, although they are informed by them. At its heart, risk is concerned with uncertainty.  As such, you should expect to hear words in the workshop like ‘this could happen’ or ‘that might happen’.  If you’re talking about how you manage a current issue, you’re unlikely to be dealing in the wider world of uncertainty.

6. Do think about, and document, next steps at the workshop.
The workshop format is a bringing together of minds.  For it to have maximum impact it should be the basis for subsequent risk-based decision making.  There should be actions, action owners and timescales allocated to those actions so that attendees walk out feeling a positive contribution has been made, and they can now look forward to the next one…

OK, that may be a stretch target!