Archive for the ‘risk management’ Category



August 8, 2012

“I keep hearing Ka-ching! Ka-ching!….”

  -MN HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS CHAIR,  Republican Mary Liz Holberg-Lakeville

Sometimes, all one can do is shake one’s head as you look at the mess Republicans make of their own conflicting policy stands.

United across the country, Republicans want smaller national government, less taxes, and smaller federal budgets.  The rallying cry is LESS Fed  interference…States Rights…We in the states know best; we can take care of ourselves. Throw in a refusal to acknowledge a slow (but moving faster) climate change, and a major weather disaster in Northern Minnesota and what do you have?

…Whining that FEMA is not paying enough to help in the Minnesota disaster!

  • Tell me WHY one should expect MORE money from FEMA than we got in 2007 to cover a larger storm disaster in southern Minnesota;
  • Tell me WHY they should be surprised that their fiscal actions to cut budgets on a national level  should impact us on a state level;
  • And, tell me WHY they are surprised when they are the ones that refused to act on recommendations from the Office of the Legislative Auditor?

As a quick reference, the auditor suggested that we clarify when the state will pay the entire 25% match FEMA requires and when it will expect local governments to split the tab; address the same issues in the Flood Hazard Mitigation Grants; and decide what state help should be made available when FEMA declines to help.

Particularly in view of our current situation, that makes sense to me.  Had our Minnesota Legislature, led by the Republicans, taken the proposed action, we would have an agreed-upon disaster action plan.

Instead, they ignored it.  And now I am MAD.  In my world, it is considered incompetency not to have a clear disaster action plan for every meeting and event produced.  Is it too much to ask the same of our government?

Only when we as the people start holding state and federal legislators accountable for their inaction, will we facilitate change and a way to free ourselves from being victims of this absolute madness!

And being mad, I much more susceptible to the suggestion that just perhaps, the whining is due to discrimination.  We may not be hearing so much of it if the disaster was in Lakeville or Jordon instead of 15 counties and  3 tribal reservations in northern Minnesota.

Whatever, as the STRIB points out this morning, over the last 15 years, we have had 32 weather disasters ranked “severe” that cost the state $488 million…we are expecting that frequency to increase.

So perhaps it is time now for all of us with a common voice to demand responsible actions from our legislators or remove them from office!






April 28, 2010

Little did I know last February, when after a disappointing local ISES chapter meeting, I blogged about risk management in “The Over-Looked Competency”, that ISES and its media partner, THE SPECIAL EVENT would soon have an opportunity to demonstrate to all members, attendees and followers their expertise level in that discipline. This morning, we have a live and un-folding case history, that handled effectively, could become a break-through to elevate our level of professionalism as event designers and producers.

Today, in the context of S.B. 1070 just passed by the Arizona legislature, the selection of the theme of TSE 2011 seems foretelling of a significant situation that will impact the show.

No matter which side of the immigration discussion we each represent, we now have a “risk situation”. For two days, we have witnessed reactions in the national press, and by last night we learned that the first upcoming conference planned for Scottsdale had cancelled. By this morning, our industry on-line trade publications have started to run news and opinion articles about whether groups planning conferences, meetings or events in Arizona should cancel and rebook elsewhere. What initially may emerge as an ethical vs. financial discussion, most likely will be discussed and rehashed for some time, but I expect that cancellation and attrition clauses will so heavily impact the financially-challenged conference organizer, that after much discussion, the TSE will remain in Phoenix.

And so, the Dawn of a New Beginning in Arizona based on immigration crises initiated by the passage of S.B. 1070 can become The Dawn of a New Beginning in providing some significant learning opportunities at TSE – if the organizers are willing to look past the standard learning levels of their conference and make this a powerful learning experience.

ISES in its name alone reflects the multi-culture and multi-racial makeup of members and many attendees of TSE. There will be those that may be threatened by the risk of racial-profiling. I expect there will be those in the international community that will question who we are as a country. And there may be those that could conceivably fall into the net cast widely in Arizona, and for one reason or another may not have proof of citizenship or international documents showing visitor status on their person at all times.

This may well impact the TSE on two levels.

The first, of course, after negative PR, is the potential negative impact on attendance from those that feel threatened or wish to protest the law. Setting aside the emotion involved in that, this could represent a major financial risk to TSE and potentially an educational risk for those among us that recognize that our International members, just by the nature of being international, represent a large body of the forward-thinking members of our organization. If they don’t attend, why would I go if my purpose is to engage with and learn from these people?

The second impact comes on-site during that conference, and the exposure attendees may have to the implementation of this law. If one’s path crosses those of a law enforcement officer, and there is reason to believe you are not a citizen, it will now be illegal for that enforcement officer NOT to ask for your papers. If you do not have them with you, under S.B. 1070, you may find yourself apprehended.

This Arizona law represents to TSE a first level of risk – that which can be minimized with good planning practices. Any failure to assess, evaluate, create contingency and emergency action plans, and develop communication plans broadcasts incompetency within our industry.

I urge TSE to give serious thought to this situation, renegotiate as you can from a position of strength, then focus on contingency planning and worst-case scenarios to minimize these risks. And then, add the situation to your education track – not to broadcast how well you handled it and tell attendees how to do it right, but to start a dialogue between organizer and attendee – reach out to those who questioned, or have been impacted or have expertise to question and share points of view so that all involved leave TSE with an impactful learning experience –that Dawn of a New Beginning that gives us all something to take away that we can begin to implement back home to start making a difference.

It would almost be worth attending the TSE 2011 Out Reach Meeting next month as a spectator to witness how plans to step up to the challenge emerge and are shaped in a responsible and effective manner.



February 24, 2010

Early in my professional life, I learned a phrase – “Real-Win-Worth-Risk”- that has served me well over the years. It reflected a means to evaluate a potential sales opportunity as a brain jogger to ask and evaluate answers to the key questions before launching automatically into developing a proposal response. As significant, it was the first time in my career that I was forced to objectively think about that term risk and its importance to my company, to our clients, and to me personally.

Over the years, experience after experience reinforced its validity. Eventually, I learned to give risk its proper due and place the correct amount of emphasis upon it rather than to simply dismiss it with a cursory “it will never happen to me”. On the contrary, unplanned and bad things happen and we need to be prepared. In fact, along with good overall event design, it is a competency far more essential than any knowledge or understanding we may have of the many support functions upon which we tend to focus.

Based on the probability of an incident and the magnitude of loss if it happens, risk can be placed in three general categories:

• Risk that can be minimized with good planning practices
• Risk that can’t be controlled, but with small magnitude of loss
• Risk that can’t be controlled, with a large magnitude of loss

It should be no surprise that the third category automatically signals we must go back to the drawing board to change our overall event design and plan. However, most risk incidents fortunately fall into the first category and, with our proper attention, can be minimized. Failure to assess, evaluate, create contingency plans and properly communicate them only broadcasts our incompetency as a member of this industry.

Passing the responsibility for risk assessment and action to a vendor, our legal department or our risk management officer is not an option. Yes, they are valued advisers and in many cases, the decision-makers during the planning process. Listen to their input; ask them questions; learn from them; but we cannot abdicate our own responsibility.

An effective response to a disruption of our event calls for the coordinated execution of a pre-determined emergency action plan. We must evaluate overall risk and create an emergency action plan as well as on site communication channels and protocols, division of duties and responsibilities, and plans to link communication systems.

I personally have experienced situations involving each of the following general categories. Please ask yourself – do you have a plan for:

• Attrition, Indemnification and Hold Harmless Clauses
• Weather –a rain plan, a snowstorm, earthquake, hurricane, flood, landslide or avalanche depending on location
• Venue Disasters including fire, roof collapses, power outages, a loss of water, technology issues; labor strikes including housekeeping, culinary and bar staff, others
• Missing or Damaged Materials essential to the event
• Data Security for client proprietary information and attendee information
• Liquor Liability Understand dram shop and social-host laws; protect yourself with indemnification clauses and ensure bartenders and servers are TIPS trained and can communicate between beverage stations
• Illness or Death, especially in a foreign country. Think about a flu pandemic, other disease issues or food poisoning within your group
• Loss of Documents passports, visas, similar
• Robbery or Kidnapping
• Shooting, Bomb Threat, Nuclear Plant Explosion, or Terrorist Attack

Contingency planning means planning for the “what ifs” and the worst-case scenarios to minimize loss of life, property and income. You or your business could be held legally responsible for damages that occur during an emergency such as a natural disaster, fire power outage, environmental accident, strike, or terrorism-activity for which you are not adequately prepared. Conduct a risk and security assessment and plan ahead!