Some say the impacts of the coronavirus were unknowable and that the future (including a looming economic collapse) is equally as uncertain. However, the chain of events that have unfolded was entirely predictable months in advance. As Risk Managers, our job is to imagine the unimaginable.
Since 2005, we have worked tirelessly with our clients to help them see and plan for the future – through scandals, the Great Recession, H1N1 and most recently COVID. We began working with our clients in February on their COVID business continuity plans, well before the rest of the country was taking the virus seriously. I’m often asked by clients how we’re able to see so far ahead and around the corner. It got me thinking about the origins of our company and the road traveled to get to where we are today.
Challenge or Competitive Advantage?
From a young age, I realized my mind worked differently than others’. I was able to see patterns and predict how things would transpire well in advance of them happening, yet I struggled with other things like reading, writing, and basic math. It always felt like I had to work three times harder to achieve what others seemed to achieve effortlessly. It wasn’t until age 26 while working towards my MBA at Wharton that I was diagnosed with dyslexia.
There are common misconceptions around dyslexia that are worth clarifying. Although “learning disability” is an often associated term with dyslexia, expressions like “visionary,” “seeing the big picture,” and “out of the box thinking” are also connected with dyslexia. Nearly 35% of CEOs are dyslexic despite dyslexia affecting less than 5% of the population. At its core, dyslexia causes people to process reading, writing, and computations through their right brain hemisphere, which is known for visual and intuitive thinking. The other 95+% of the population processes these same functions through their left brain, which is more suited to verbal, analytical, and orderly thinking.
This gave me the unique ability to see how things connect, form complex systems, and identify similarities among seemingly unrelated things. I learned over time that these connections and patterns could be understood as future trends to take action on.
Designing a Solution
Steve Jobs, a dyslexic, famously positioned the PC as a bicycle for the mind. At the time, this was a revolutionary concept: the idea that a computer could amplify a person’s natural abilities and allow them to perform at an entirely new level, and even take their capabilities to the masses. James Dyson, also a dyslexic, spent ten years obsessively studying the power dynamics of cyclone suction to harness the technology into a vacuum cleaner that wouldn’t clog or reduce in performance as it filled up.
I realized that my ability to see how things connect and recognize patterns could help change outcomes. Professionals generally struggle to see multiple degrees of separation; they are naturally focused on their day-to-day and the latest task at hand, but if I could design something that allowed them to see the world as I did – 6 degrees of separation out – I could enable them to plan ahead and make decisions that would lead to better results.
The core inspiration that began my journey to founding LogicManager was the concept of taxonomy also known as ontology; to make the connections between all elements of an organization (such as processes, people, physical assets, third parties, etc.) and risk. As business operations have evolved over time – due to scaling, geographic expansion, role specialization, and changes in supply & demand – the supply chain has also expanded and become more siloed. The constituent pieces have become out of touch with both each other and the end customer.
I knew it would be critical to not only stitch together the supply chain so that 6 degrees of separation could be seen in a single view, but then to standardize, score and prioritize within the taxonomy – ensuring criticality and subject matter expertise could be ranked and resources could be appropriately allocated. It is this multidimensional chess board, or six degrees of separation, governance model that enables trends to be identified and connected to the people, resources, and processes that can be actioned on. I began to think through how a software could facilitate this process for organizations. I knew conceptually that layering on risk plans to this would provide organizations with a powerful way of actively identifying, managing & mitigating operational risks proactively – and the framework for LogicManger’s ERM software was born.
Starting a Business
I founded LogicManager in February of 2005. When it came to the Risk Management software market, we were early. People didn’t yet understand the need or how ERM could transform the way they ran their business. At the time, there was an intentional separation of escalation of risks to senior leadership. Plausible deniability was relied upon so that liability could be avoided. I knew I had to start in a place where there was a critical mass of Risk professionals.
I decided to author the Risk Maturity Model, a best practice framework for Enterprise Risk Management that included an assessment tool that enabled businesses to assess the strength of their ERM program and make a plan for improvement. I then partnered with the Risk Management Society (RIMS) and donated my RMM intellectual property to them. This allowed exposure to a niche group of professionals focused on Risk Management, and the Risk Maturity Model soon became the standard used in the Risk Management industry. With LogicManager’s name attached to it, we were finally on the map.
From there, the Global Recession in 2008 brought about regulatory changes to prevent future ENRON’s. These changes shined a light on Risk Management as a critical need, and established new penalties for senior management should they not have an effective system for escalation of issues. We were on the front lines helping clients navigate the recession, and were again during the H1N1 epidemic which hit during that same time period. Over the course of time, GRC and ERM have increasingly become household names. The importance of data privacy & security along with new regulations fueled demand for ERM software and propelled our exponential year over year growth.
Most recently, I developed the idea of the See Through Economy: the trend in fast-paced transparency enabled by social media and technologies, where consumers, employees, vendors, and investors are empowered to impact a company’s reputation, making effective risk management even more critical.
Practical Application of Technology to See the Future & Prepare
Using risk management software enables you to imagine the unimaginable, predict the impact to your business, and plan ahead so that when faced with anything ranging from managing the day-to-day to surviving extraordinary circumstances like the Great Recession or COVID, you can ensure that your organization’s risks have already been mitigated and business continuity is preserved. By linking libraries of process-specific content with tasks and workflow capabilities, you can sustain key operations. It’s essential that a wide group of interchangeable folks are able to perform core business processes for coverage. Workflows are able to bridge this gap and play a key role in ensuring operations don’t fall apart as a result of mass absenteeism. By tracking policies and protocols and documenting that they were followed, you will gather evidence to prevent penalties, lawsuits, and reputational damage.
I have never stopped matching patterns with trends. Outside of continuously evolving our software, I author blogs and articles calling things well in advance of when the masses accept these realities. I often encounter Cassandra Complex, a phenomenon where people who predict bad news or warnings are ignored or outright dismissed, as a negative reality is not always what people want to hear. However, the job of a Risk Manager is to imagine the unimaginable and prepare for it. When I can help corporate teams prepare for what’s to come, I have my most optimistic days. The best outcome from seeing these patterns in advance is being able to educate our clients and help them prepare.
See a sampling of my most recent predictions below. You can observe based on the publication dates how far in advance I was identifying these patterns from when they were eventually accepted by the mainstream.
January 16, 2019 – Recession inevitable and how to prepare
February 5, 2020 – How to prepare a pandemic Business Continuity Planning
March 3rd, 2020 – COVID-19 2nd Wave – 5 biggest risks and what to do about them
July 2nd, 2020 – Workplace Risk Management liabilities and avoiding negligence