How to manage a successful enterprise risk management program
Many initiatives within an organization are supported by steering committees, committees that decide on the priorities or order of the business. Audit, IT and EHS (Environment Health & Safety) are just a few common examples. However, not all steering committees are created equal. They can take on many different shapes and forms based on need, initiative scope, subject-matter expertise and company culture, just to name a few.
Generally, a steering committee’s purpose is to ensure that the initiative has the support to be effectively integrated into the organization. Committees are formed to ensure the success of the initiative, as well as the success of participants, by effectively sponsoring, opening opportunities and tearing down walls or barriers that may derail the initiative. But, it is not uncommon to see a steering committee that has evolved into an “update session” with little change or influence happening in the organization.
Enterprise Risk Management, or ERM, is no different in this regard. It requires an active and engaged committee of sponsors who ultimately own the success of the initiative being adopted by the organization or not. In other words, they are your support team for success.
The difference between success and failure
So, what makes the difference? Why are some steering committees more effective than others?
Well, as you can imagine, there are a myriad of reasons but below I offer a few points I’ve learned over the years that can help you successfully use your steering committee to get your initiative moving and adopted.
1. Select the Right Members
This may seem like common sense but in practice can be difficult. Some questions that have emerged over the years are:
- Who has the right authority and influence where your initiative is targeted?
- Are these individuals available and have the time to commit to the initiative?
- Have you clearly defined the specialized skills you need on your committee?
- Do the individual personalities work in favor of the initiative? (Not “does everybody get along”, but rather is there enough objectivity, enough diverging opinions but with the right balance to ensure issues are clearly vetted and aligned to execute.)
- Are they willing to sponsor the initiative? Are they committed to seeing the initiative succeed?
- How have they performed on past steering committees? Does this work in your favor? If not, can they be influenced to participate as you need them to?
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