Leadership in a crisis

Leadership in a crisis: Responding to the coronavirus outbreak and future challenges

Gemma D’Auria and Aaron De Smet

The coronavirus pandemic has placed extraordinary demands on leaders in business and beyond. The humanitarian toll taken by COVID-19 creates fear among employees and other stakeholders.

The massive scale of the outbreak and its sheer unpredictability make it challenging for executives to respond. Indeed, the outbreak has the hallmarks of a “landscape scale” crisis: an unexpected event or sequence of events of enormous scale and overwhelming speed, resulting in a high degree of uncertainty that gives rise to disorientation, a feeling of lost control, and strong emotional disturbance. Read more

The History of Pandemics

Visualizing the History of Pandemics

Nicholas LePan

As humans have spread across the world, so have infectious diseases. Even in this modern era, outbreaks are nearly constant, though not every outbreak reaches pandemic level as the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has. Today’s visualization outlines some of history’s most deadly pandemics, from the Antonine Plague to the current COVID-19 event. Read more

Insights on coronavirus

Insights on handling coronavirus from an earlier report on business and outbreaks

Protecting Lives and Livelihoods across the Global Economy. This 2019 report by the World Economic Forum and the Harvard Global Health Institute warned of an outbreak like COVID-19 and told businesses to step up to the increasing risk of pandemics. Read more

Your Company Is Too Risk-Averse

Dan Lovallo, Tim Koller, Robert Uhlaner and Daniel Kahneman

In theory, companies are supposed to create value for stakeholders by making risky investments. And as long as no single failure will sink the enterprise, those investments may be quite large. It won’t matter if even a significant percentage of them fail so long as the success of other bets compensates, which usually happens.

It’s an approach to investment that’s supported by economic theory going back to the 1950s work of Nobel laureate Harry Markowitz on portfolio optimization. Read more

How To Use A Risk Matrix

Julian Talbot

There are better tools for risk assessment than risk matrices

But, contrary to some opinion, they are not without some utility. So if your organization still insists on using them, here are at least two basic issues that are easy to fix when using a risk matrix. The first is failing to identify the risk. You can’t calculate a likelihood and consequence for a one-word risk such as ‘Terrorism’. Read more

Emissions: Limit global warming

Emissions: four times the work or one-third of the time to comply with the Paris Agreement

New synthesis shows what a wasted decade means for the climate pact made in Paris. New research  shows that nations must now do much more and much faster to limit global warming to well below 2 °C, let alone 1.5 °C, as agreed in Paris.

A decade of insufficient political action on climate change means that nations must now do four times the work — or do the same in one-third of the time — to comply with the climate pact they made in Paris, argue Niklas Höhne and colleagues of different institutes, including Michel den Elzen (PBL) in a Comment piece in this week’s Nature. The authors’ conclusions are based on a synthesis of all ten editions of the Emissions Gap Report produced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Each year for the past ten years, this report has examined the difference (the ‘gap’) between what countries have pledged to do individually to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and what they need to do collectively to meet agreed temperature goals. Read more

The Coronavirus and Carbon Emissions

Brad Plumer and

In the past month, the world has seen a remarkably large drop in emissions of carbon dioxide, the main driver of global warming. The reason isn’t something to celebrate, though. The coronavirus outbreak in China, which has sickened at least 77,000 people, has shut down factories, refineries and flights across the country as officials order people to stay home. Read more

Look to cities, not nation-states

Robert Muggah

The world in 2020 is looking more turbulent and uncertain than ever. Powerful economic, demographic and technological forces are rewiring international politics. According to the World Economic Forum’s new Global Risks Report, structural shifts are encouraging nation-states to adopt more transactional and unilateral postures. Read more


Creating and protecting value

Richard J. Anderson & Mark L. Frigo. 

Understanding and implementing enterprise risk management. 
Over the past few decades, enterprise risk management (“ERM”) has been receiving increased attention by boards and executives and has undergone a continuing evolution in its development and uses. Along the way, lessons have been learned and ERM has been better understood regarding its benefits, objectives, and role in the organization.

This COSO thought paper takes advantage of lessons learned and new guidance on enterprise risk management published by COSO to provide directors and executives with a better understanding of the role of enterprise risk management in creating and preserving value and its relationship to the key strategies of the organization. While not a detailed implementation guide, this paper includes overall guidance and an outline of succinct tangible steps that can used to implement an effective ERM program.

This thought paper outlines and provides clarity on the role and value of enterprise risk management to help directors and executives answer several key questions including:

  • “What is the real value of enterprise risk management?”
  • “What is its role and objectives?
  • “What are practical steps that can be taken to implement enterprise risk management?


The business environment today is one in which boards of directors and senior management will continue to face rapid changes, complexities, and volatile risks. Such an environment, however, also presents them with significant new opportunities. Organizations can enhance their abilities to be successful in both addressing risks and taking advantage of opportunities by enhancing their enterprise risk management processes and integrating ERM fully into their strategy setting and performance processes. Enhancing their ERM processes starts witha clear understanding of the role of ERM in assisting the directors and management to make better decisions and achieve their strategy and business objectives. The updated COSO ERM Framework clarifies both the relationship between strategy and risk and that the objective of ERM is to assist the organization to achieve its strategy and business objectives. Understanding these two key points is not only critical for success but important in setting and communicating the risk culture of the organization.

The concepts, approach, and guidance outlined in this paper provides useful insights in how management and directors can take initial steps in implementing or enhancing their ERM processes in alignment with the new guidance. Together with COSO’s Enterprise Risk Management – Integrating with Strategy and Performanceand other COSO thought papers, this paper is a starting point and foundation for an effective ERM initiative. Any ERM initiative needs to be tailored carefully to the needs of a specific organization. The ideas and recommendations presented in this paper are neither intended to be, nor are they, the only way to implement an ERM initiative. The approach of this paper and the updated ERM Framework and related guidance provide the flexibility to tailor an ERM initiative and realize fully its benefits. Keep in mind the benefits of taking small, incremental steps and building a culture of continuous improvement.

Above all, keep the momentum going and help ensure that the organization will increase its chances of successfully achieving its strategy and business objectives though a robust management of the risks that could impair that achievement. The goal is to develop the momentum for ERM which will continue to expand and deepen the organization’s strategy setting, performance, and risk management processes in its pursuit of creating and protecting value.

Read more

Managing risk from the front line

PriceWaterhouseCoopers | Risk in review, 6th Annual Study April 2017*

The heart of the matter: Front-line leadership, collaborative success
It’s been almost a decade since the 2008 global financial crisis and its aftermath forced companies into a defensive risk management posture, pulling responsibilities back from the business units to the second line of defence as they fought to weather the storm.

But faced with the new challenges of today’s complex business risk environment, companies are seeing the tide shifting once again. Today a collaborative approach to risk management with risk accountability sitting squarely in the first line of defence can be the key to greater organisational resiliency and growth. That means an engaged first line that makes risk decisions in alignment with strategy. It means a proactive second line that influences decision making through effective challenge and timely consultation and collaboration. And it means a diligent, independent third line focused on its core missions of protecting the organisation and delivering value.

A risk management ecosystem led from the front line, that fosters collaboration and shared accountability across all three lines of defence, positions a company to effectively meet the challenges of today’s risk landscape. To get there, a company should:

  • Set a strong organisational tone focused on risk culture that starts with the board and CEO and permeates the entire organisation.
  • Align risk management with strategy at the point of decision making so the first line anticipates business risks when setting tactical priorities.
  • Recalibrate the risk management programme across the three lines of defence with the first line owning business risk decision making, the second line monitoring the first, and the third line providing objective oversight.
  • Implement a clearly defined risk appetite framework across the organisation.
  • Develop risk reporting that enables executive management and the board to effectively execute their risk oversight responsibilities.

Read more

* republished article

Effective risk governance

Biggest barrier to strong front line Risk Governance Model …

Tim Leech

“I find it ironic that the 2 professions – the risk management and internal audit professions – most responsible for promoting effective risk governance are currently the biggest risk to that goal. That can change quickly if leadership of the IIA and RM associations aggressively and clearly communicate the need to change, and equip members with the tools they need to make it happen.” Read more

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