Can restructuring help control your risks, or will it just move them around?

Growth may require restructuring

Restructuring is sometimes necessary. I have written about the risks of growth and asked whether the structures and procedures in your organisation continue to be fit for purpose when growth occurs. If the business changes, the risks will change. At least the probability and potential severity of each risk will change. Therefore you need to review all the controls in place. You could include a review of the structure of your organisation.

How does restructuring affect Risk Management?

A business should have three lines of defence against risk.

  1. The manager of each task or activity
  2. Internal checks such as risk managers, health & safety officers, audit, quality control
  3. Independent persons such as non-executive directors, external audit,

You may need to strengthen one or more of these. All should have access to top management whenever they need it. Does your structure provide all three lines of defence and are they adequate?

JHM Risk ManagementA man with a question mark, possibly considering restructuring his business.
A man with a question mark, possibly considering restructuring his business.
When do I not recommend restructuring?

Restructuring is not an end in itself or a solution to every problem. I have come across situations where an organisation has a particularly inefficient or ineffective unit within it and top management think they can improve it by changing the lines of reporting. Perhaps they divide the unit into two, or amalgamate it with another. If you don’t do anything else, such as replacing inefficient staff or retraining them, all you get is inefficiency spread around (or alternatively, concentrated).

When does restructuring work best?

When it is one element of a package of measures and when everyone involved understands the purpose of the changes.

Don’t just move a problem around: tackle it!

The Risks of Bombing Syria without clear aims and a risk assessment.

It looks as if the UK will be joining the US in bombing Syria.

The situation in Syria is unique, but in some ways familiar. Do they never learn? I remember all the arguments before, during and after the Iraq war. One question was ‘What are our aims: what do we hope to achieve?’ and another was ‘What do we do when we get there?’

Nobody answered either, because nobody had a plan. It was just assumed that something would turn up. It did. Trouble! And suffering. And finally ISIS.

What’s different in Syria this time?

Russia. The risk of escalation. That’s on top of the risks of making things even worse for the people of Syria and creating many more refugees. These are big risks.

Three Dice. How big a gamble are we about to make?
Three Dice. How big a gamble are we about to make?
Is it not time for someone to intervene in Syria?

What I think is stupid is the timing. Assad has nearly regained control of a large part of the country. This means the war could be over soon. OK so victory for Assad would not please everyone. What would? Who are the good guys? The rebels are made up of lots of groups including several kinds of Islamic extremists. Would the defeat of Assad lead to a new stable government with respect for human rights? Wouldn’t another civil war be more likely? Between the different factions? What if one group won. What would they do to the losers?

I didn’t mention that Assad and his supporters are members of a variety of Shiite Islam, whereas most of the other side are Sunnis It is the same issue in Yemen. Do we favour one type of Islam over another? Would a victory for the Sunnis be desirable?

The Risks of bombing Syria need assessing and managing!

What I am saying is that we need to have clear objectives and some assessment of the chances of achieving them before we intervene in Syria. As it is, there is a real risk of making things even worse, hard as it is to imagine.

The Risks of replacing plastic with glass: safety versus the environment?

Where have I encountered glass?

I have just got back from walking my dog in the park. We had a job navigating around all the broken glass there. It seems to be getting to be a more frequent experience. I have heard reports that some manufacturers are reverting to glass bottles as opposed to plastic. This means more of it on the ground.

This dog has so far managed to avoid treading on glass.
This dog has so far managed to avoid treading on glass.
Why is glass preferable to plastic?

I understand that it is easier to recycle and degrades when buried in soil. People are concerned about the amount of plastic getting into the sea and so into the food chain. They also mention the harm it does to fish and other marine creatures. Their concerns are quite justified. Plastic littering the land is only slightly less undesirable.

So why is plastic preferable to glass? Unless you are a dog.

Broken glass can damage your tyres. That is bad enough if you drive a car. If you ride a bike, it’s much worse. Then has anyone ever¬† thrown a bottle at you? Whether you were in a car, on a bike or afoot, you would not like it.

Am I just complaining about anti-social behaviour?

No. Glass dropped accidentally can be a hazard too, not only on the road. In the park, it gets onto the pitches and children’s play areas. When the grass is a bit long, you can easily step, sit, lie or fall on it. What about the beach, where you go barefoot?

Am I ignoring the environment?

No. Plastic is recyclable. If not, why do they tell us to put it in the blue bin? Surely, the answer is more vigorous anti-litter campaigning, backed by the application of the Law. The latest initiative in bringing back deposits on bottles is one step in the right direction too.

I don’t want any kind of litter cluttering up the countryside, the sea or the town. It doesn’t have to.¬† Let’s manage this group of risks properly.