Tuesday 5 April 2016

Five Risk Management Lessons From Pixar

I read an interview in McKinsey Quarterly with Ed Catmull, one of the co-founders of Pixar, about his management approach for keeping the business innovative (here; registration may be required).  I hoped this article would provide an interesting window into a different sector.  When I finished reading the article, I had found something very different instead.  I had learned a number of useful lessons about the design and implementation of risk management:   

1.  That clear business objectives inform risk taking.  Are there clear business objectives?  How do they relate to risk management?

2.  The impossibility of delivering absolute clarity. Is risk management striking a balance between providing clarity and enabling staff at all levels to respond to challenges as they arise?   

3.       The importance of running experiments.  How do/can we experiment with risk management?  Is this about testing risk metrics?  Product features and claims?  Changes to underwriting criteria? 

4.       Articulating business culture to make it less dependent on key individuals and ensure it resonates beyond senior management.  How do we ensure that the ‘tone from the top’ is echoed by middle management?  

5.       The important distinction between assuming and spreading risks and their focus on the former.  How close is the risk management oversight to product development and risk taking? 

So the next time you watch a Pixar movie, remember that there is a fair amount of risk management behind the scenes. 

This post is part of the series "Aspects of Risk Management".  Other articles are available here.  

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