Risk Management in Real Life

Darlene Dean, Divine Quality, LLC

When is the last time you updated your risk contingency/risk plan?

I mean REALLY updated it – not just check the box ✅

This may seem obvious, but…. once a problem occurs it is too late to plan for it!!!!

A disaster or crisis starts much earlier when we do not have strong plans in place to mitigate the risk.  What could have been a minor inconvenience without good planning becomes a full-blown disaster.  This can happen anywhere: at home, at work or when you think you have lost your car keys hiking a trail.

A crisis oftentimes triggers deep thinking about how lessons learned can be applied to your work environment. I recently had one of these a-ha moments when I was hiking. I had a backpack full of items to mitigate risks I might encounter while on the trail. The missing link is that I hadn’t updated what was in my backpack in quite a while.

Risk Management and Backpacking

When we hike – I carry a backpack. It is my “contingency” plan for that hike. I put it together a few years ago after taking a much longer hike than originally planned – an extra 5 HOURS longer than planned.

Yesterday – I threw the Mustang key in my backpack as we took off. Unfortunately, the Mustang is one of the only Ford vehicles without keyless entry which is a great risk avoidance plan.  When we returned – I could not find it after digging through the pockets several times. Eventually, I dumped the bag out and found the key at the very bottom. This caused a very high stress moment, although we had cell phones and were in a state park so in risk terms – not a catastrophic event.

It was a typical summer day in Michigan – 80 degrees and very humid. Dumping out the contents of the backpack gave me the chance to review my “risk plan”.  It was all right there in front of me!

Here is what I was carrying besides two fresh water bottles in the outside pockets.
– skull cap and winter gloves – leftover from cold weather hiking in Sedona
– a holder for my I-phone
– an Eddie Bauer emergency kit (matches, candle, flashlight that didn’t work, etc.)
– 4 expired and smashed trail bars
– 2 evaporated hand sanitizers
– a jump rope – I can’t even account for that
– a summer cap
– dried out wipes
– Kleenex

What I wasn’t carrying (and could have used) is bug spray, sun screen, and I learned today – a rain poncho!!  I was also carrying so many items I did not need.

I made a packing list and my backpack is now updated. I added Benadryl, Tums, and Advil.  I was going to take out the winter items but the weight was low and the risk medium if I forgot to add them back in later this fall.

What did I learn?

  1. Review your company and personal contingency plans at least twice per year, especially if you are in an area with cyclical seasonal risks. What severe weather or natural disaster is possible in your area?
  2. Personal contingency plans can include having a flashlight available and gas in the generator in case of power outages. Your company should have a plan for back-up power generation, both short and long term.
  3. Personal technology risk mitigation includes knowing each other’s passwords. (I have a friend who still cannot access her deceased husband’s computer where all the family pictures are stored.) For your business, Cyber Security is now critical, but so is having a back-up plan if your system is hacked or locked down by ransomware, or a key employee leaves without sharing his/her password.
  4. Learn from other’s mistakes – if you see other companies in the news – check and see if you have a preventative measure in place for the same type of issue. It doesn’t take long to get a list of risk management gone wrong – infant formula, cold weather in Texas, port issues.
  5. Double Check – especially with today’s turnover rates – ensure your team has done the work.So, take out your emergency kits and plans and really look at them line by line and piece by piece – you may be surprised. 😯


Darlene Deane is an experienced supply chain and product management professional with expertise in risk management, supplier auditing, and supplier launch, primarily in the US but also extensive experience in Europe, Mexico, and Asia.  She is often called upon to lead teams where the issues are complex or without well-defined roles and responsibilities.



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *