Tag Archives: Risk management

Do what you say on your tin

Canadian Falls 3Are you taking the risk? It is something we all do, but why do we confuse and complicate it by our lackadaisical use of language? We take risks in order to gain something for ourselves, and occasionally others. We weigh up the options available to us, and make a decision based on what we compute to be the most beneficial course of action. It is called positive risk-taking not because we are trying to find a ‘positive risk’ (whatever that is), but because we are taking the risk in order to achieve a positive outcome (the gain or benefit). So, the word positive is about the outcome not about the risk! I am also not talking about ‘positive risk management’, which sounds too general and like unnecessary window-dressing of a process more often seen as negative or risk-averse. The word positive is being added to risk-taking, in my context, in order to bring some clarity and specific detail to your thinking.

We revere risk-takers in the worlds of sport, entertainment and business, tending to attribute degrees of awe to their decision-making and achievements. Do you think Ayrton Senna planned his route, speed and overtaking manoeuvres around the race-track because he thought the risk would be nice? Does Warren Buffett make his financial decisions based on a spin of his favourite coin? It is more than likely that both of these people employed complex ways of weighing up the pros and cons of choices facing them, sometimes with careful thought and consideration, and sometimes distilling a lifetime of experience into a split second. So do we, in our own personal circumstances.

Risk Decision-MakingSo, next time you are leaning on a bar deciding whether to have that extra Babycham, remember that positive risk-taking is weighing up the pros and cons of your particular set of circumstances at that time. Whereas the positive risk is simply the chance that they might taste better the more you have; and the positive risk management is the hope that those around you will help you home instead of tying you to a lamp-post at the end of the night. These concepts mean different things, so be clear when you use language, only positive risk-taking is thoughtful and considered. But… what do you think?

http://www.pavpub.com/risk-decision-making/

“Words are how people think. When you misuse words, you diminish your ability to think clearly and truthfully.” [Margaret Heffernan].

Podcast Episode 044: Suicide Risk Factors

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2In this episode I maintain a focus on suicide risk by reviewing risk factors and the importance of counter-balancing these with a focus on protective factors and strengths.

A specific program in Detroit has generated debate and pilot sites in the UK to develop a zero tolerance to suicide risk, and while aiming for zero suicides is an excellent ideal, it raises several important questions. Firstly, some people have made a clear and final decision to take their own lives for their own complex and personal reasons, so how will choice be respected within a zero tolerance approach? Will services be recognised for reductions in suicide rates or will the blame culture still focus on the diminishing few completed cases? Should any practitioners or advocates seriously question the ethos and intentions behind a zero tolerance approach?

Suicide risk factors from the known research are outlined, and the more personalised reflection of protective factors are highlighted. The emphasis on assessing and working with suicide risk is placed on the quality information through narrative approaches, not the more frequent bureaucratic requirement for ticking boxes.

For the full content of this episode click on the links for iTunes and Sound Cloud (or go to Stitcher Radio):

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/044-suicide-risk-factors/id867043694?i=334338377&mt=2

“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” [Phil Donahue].

Podcast Episode 043: Suicide Risk [2]

IMAG1511What role does positive risk-taking have to play when someone is experiencing and expressing serious suicidal thoughts? Firstly, we have a duty to take such expressions very seriously, but the language of suicide risk can often appear overwhelming to others, and generate great fears of what might be.

Do we respond in a way that manages the other person, manages the situation, and ultimately takes over through assuming control over and for the person? Do we really take that step backwards, and give ourselves whatever time is available to listen to the person and help them explore their options in a supported relationship? We cannot eliminate risk, but do we become overwhelmed by a fear of engaging in the real conversation?

There is no such thing as a risk-free option, and in this episode I outline a case example from my own practice that illustrates how positive risk-taking was put in place through listening and acting on what the individual has to say, identifying alternatives, and exploring strengths and potential protective factors alongside the serious expression of risk.

For the full content of this episode click on the links for iTunes and Sound Cloud (or go to Stitcher Radio):

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/043-suicide-risk-2/id867043694?i=333467695&mt=2

“If it wasn’t for the possibility of suicide I would have killed myself a long time ago.” [Unknown source].

Podcast Episode 042: Suicide Risk (Interview case example)

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2This episode is an interview with Satsanga (Lawrence Borish) reflecting on a case example of Alice, who he worked with whilst on a family counselling placement in his Masters Degree Social Work training in the US back in 1968. The placement was focused on cultural awareness, and the specific referral emerged through neighbourly concern for a woman whose behaviour and appearance was deteriorating. However, on engaging Alice, Satsanga discusses how, as a young inexperienced social worker, he is suddenly presented with an expression of suicidal ideas.

How we respond to these immediate circumstances can have a heavy bearing on the future life of another person. The interview explores issues of engagement of trusting working relationships, working with instinct, exploration of genuine alternatives to suicide, genuine collaboration between a person and a worker… all of which are important components of the process of ‘positive risk-taking’. The discussion raises thoughts about how we are supported, or not, to make difficult decisions; and could a decision-making process from a bygone era remain relevant today?

For the full content of this episode click on iTunes or Sound Cloud (or go to Stitcher Radio):

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/042-suicide-risk/id867043694?i=331833222&mt=2

Tables turned

Steve @ Hydra 2Well, it was only a matter of time. Your host and occasional interviewer was recently approached by Nicola Cairncross, who runs the Business Success Factory podcast show. So, who am I to turn down the possibility of being interviewed by a successful business source?

Here I discuss a little bit about my career falling into and out of things, and why I focus on a strengths perspective in my own work. Nicola is also interested in business success and money success tips, though why ask me about such things I have no idea… certainly not because I am coming to you weekly from a sun-drenched tax haven in a particularly exotic part of the world (don’t be fooled by the background in the picture above!).

Click on the following links to hear the full interview:

http://TheBusinessSuccessFactory.com/iTunes

http://thebusinesssuccessfactory.com/tbsf-070-steve-morgan/

“What’s right is what’s left if you do everything else wrong.” [Robin Williams].

 

Podcast Episode 020: Confidence Tricks [2]

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2Positive risk-taking and risk decision-making are challenges that can be achieved with greater confidence if the right conditions are in place. For practitioners in health and social care services, and for others beyond these services, a number of factors can influence your degree of confidence in your decision-making.

Being genuinely person-centred, as we are always dealing with an individual with their unique combination of strengths alongside the problems and risks. Good team-working, and support and supervision, can greatly influence the quality of decisions influenced through the culture of the team or service. The issue of ‘culture’ should also extend to the wider organisation, through the understanding of positive risk-taking and processes of risk decision-making, and supporting people’s decisions irrespective of the outcome if they have followed reasonable guidelines of good practice.

Accessing appropriate tools to guide and influence decision-making, as well as prioritising the time needed for those more complex and challenging decisions.

For the full content of this episode click on the links to iTunes and Sound Cloud (or go to Stitcher Radio):

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/020-confidence-tricks-2/id867043694?i=317753484&mt=2

“When you train your employees to be risk averse, then you’re preparing your whole company to be reward challenged.” [Morgan Spurlock].

Podcast Episode 019: Confidence Tricks [1]

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2Risk-taking is part of a healthy way of living, and we make decisions every day. However, just occasionally we are confronted with potential life-changing decisions, such as changing a job, moving our home, expressing feelings for others, marriage, children, divorce, and end of life choices.

How can we face some of these major decisions and make them with greater degrees of confidence? This episode offers a number of common sense tips to help us develop that confidence. Being reflective, checking things out with trusted friends, being aware of consequences, being open to learning not just seeing things as simple as success or failure.

Fir the full content of this episode click on the links to iTunes and Sound Cloud (or go to Stitcher Radio):

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/019-confidence-tricks-1/id867043694?i=317489992&mt=2

“But he learned long ago that a life lived without risks pretty much wasn’t worth living. Life rewarded courage, even when that first step was taken neck-deep in fear.” [Tamera Alexander].

Podcast Episode 015: Positive Risk-Taking

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2We live and work to varying degrees in a blame culture, which can drive us unintentionally to make more risk averse decisions on occasions. But taking risks is an essential part of a healthy life. The questions that we need to address are why we take risks, and then to consider how we go about taking risks.

The concept of Positive Risk-Taking is discussed in this episode, as something that emerged in the thinking relating to mental health services, but is equally applicable to everyone’s lives. The concept is firmly based in strengths-thinking, because we gain confidence in taking risks if we are more aware of our or others strengths. The discussion highlights the importance of clearer use of language in order to communicate more precisely what we mean.

A further message is that a risk averse option is not a risk-free option. Quotes are used to illustrate the importance of taking risks in our lives.

For the full content of this episode click on the links to iTunes and Sound Cloud (or go to Stitcher Radio):

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/015-positive-risk-taking/id867043694?i=316182597&mt=2

“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” [T. S. Eliot].

 

Playing with numbers

RD-M 2013

I am often mindful of the need to criticize the quality of leadership and management in health and social care services; particularly the obsession with numbers, the tick-box mentality, and the blind faith placed in targets for driving change and daily practice across services. I am surely not a lone voice in this critique, but is it valid or just a reaction against the sound of the pips squeaking?

I do believe that an absence of targets or defined outcomes, and a failure to establish high standards for provision of services only leads to inconsistencies between practitioners and teams… what is often referred to as a postcode lottery. Service users don’t deserve to be on the receiving end of either stressed out practitioners fearful of constant criticism, or laid-back practitioners doing their own thing. Audit and regulation have a place, but surely they need to be clearly joined up to practice, not existing in a vacuum somewhat disconnected from the realities within which good practice has to operate.

The ever-growing chasm between person-centred practice and business-focused managerialism does little to promote a culture of organizational collaboration that may encourage a more engaging form of audit and regulation across services. My solution would be to eliminate most of the current audit requirements imposed on practitioners and teams, particularly that which they experience as wholly time-consuming and unhelpful. So far so good, say the practitioners amongst you; please do share your thoughts, but read on before you do…

Over the last 12 years, through the Practice Based Evidence initiative, I have been developing tools designed specifically for use by practitioners and teams. These tools have flexible uses: personal reflection, individual supervision, team development and team evaluation. Used diligently they should be able to provide a host of qualitative and quantitative data, which in turn should offer useful feedback to practitioners and teams for practice development purposes. The Risk Decision-Making publication includes examples of these tools, and a specific example of data emerging from their use in a specific organization to help identify good practice and priorities for further development.

So, the sting in this tail is that practitioners and teams need to own the processes of audit and regulation if they are to reflect and develop good practice. For those auditors and managers fearful of losing their jobs ifPractice Based Evidence emerged as the norm, you could always make use of the data to tick your boxes; better still, you could prioritise your time more effectively by getting in and alongside practitioners and teams to support aquality revolution. You might then be in a stronger position to challenge and inform the thinking of the inter-galactic warlords from distant planets a.k.a. commissioners, Department of Health, Care Quality Commission…

These are just a few thoughts I am passing on as I reflect on years of connections with so many people who are desperately trying to do good work despite rather than because of their masters. Do feel free to offer your thoughts and ideas (with an accompanying dictionary from those of you who find ordinary language an alien concept… with all due respect to the demands of the Plain Language Association).

Working with Risk manuals

WWR 2007The ‘Working with Risk’ tools located here have been developed into a 2-day Risk Trainers Manual and an accompanying Practitioner Risk Manual and were published by Pavilion Publishing in Spring 2007.

The article below, written by Steve, gives an overview of the tools. It was first published in   in September 2007 and included here with their kind permission.

PDF: Working with Risk: Steve Morgan outlines a new training pack on positive risk management.