Simon van Wyk defines the risk blind spot and shares how success can be attained by navigating and embracing uncertainty.

Thinking

Risk in context: Identifying blind spots

Risks are inherent in every business and are often symptoms of problems that have the potential to wreak havoc if left unresolved.

Due to their multi-scalar and multi-dimensional nature, it’s important to identify and manage risks early to avoid a dreaded domino effect. But what if they manifest in areas you never imagined? In an earlier paper, we considered ways to optimise your business in a high-risk environment. Here, we look at tackling risk blind spots.

What is a risk blind spot?

How many times in your career have you attempted to anticipate and identify risks associated with a specific outcome? Oftentimes, reality is more elusive, resulting in risks that we do not see coming.

These risk blind spots are those that inadvertently occur without any form of anticipation.

Risk blind spots are particularly challenging. In many cases they emerge as business or project interferences that can result in more than just financial loss (i.e. reputational damage, diminishing value or delayed delivery). All businesses are bound to face uncertainty, but only those that successfully navigate uncertainty and adopt a means to embrace it will come out on top.

Establish your blind spots

If one could determine “context” with greater certainty, or better yet, optimise context, this would lay the foundation for accurate risk identification and help circumvent risk blind spots. The value proposition of contextual optimisation is very clear; it defines potential risk blind spots, meaning if you can determine the context of uncertainty, you stand a better chance identifying the blind spots that truly impact a business or a project.

Risk engineering expert Nassim Nichola Taleb once said that “it’s better to be broadly right rather than precisely wrong.” In the context of business and project delivery, this statement remains highly controversial. However, while being broadly right has its merits, it too can emerge as the epicentre for risk blind spots.

As professionals, we should remain cautious and observant. Our challenge is to embrace uncertainty and pioneer new ways to grapple with it. Through effective and proper risk management, we’ll be able to find these risk blind spots and navigate our way through them.

Read Part 1 – Risk and reward: Top 10 tips on business optimisation

Read Part 3 – Symptoms of risk: dealing with uncertainty


About the Author

Simon Van Wyk is Aurecon's Risk Leader, Program Advisory. He has 19 years of experience in risk management and advisory in different countries, including Australia, United Arab Emirates, China, and South Africa.


Originally published as LinkedIn Pulse, “Lookout! It's a risk blind spot” by Simon Van Wyk.

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