Walking the Tightrope: Balancing Risk and Innovation

Walking the Tightrope: Balancing Risk and Innovation

Insights | 05 June 2018

Right now, most industry sectors are facing a fundamental conflict – how to balance the need for speed and innovation with the requirement of maintaining and administering rigour, systems and processes to mitigate risk. It’s like walking the tightrope.

There’s been a shift to the left: competition, technology and new business models have moved at an incredibly rapid pace in traditional industries that have perhaps been complacent for too long. Consequently, there arose a desperation to meet or beat what stole market share almost overnight.

However, in the rush to innovate and grow, organisations must also not lose sight of the core principles which simultaneously ensure survival and sustainability: risk mitigation, compliance and governanceTweet: In the rush to innovate and grow, organisations must also not lose sight of the core principles which simultaneously ensure survival and sustainability: risk mitigation, compliance and governance. https://ctt.ac/90X12+ Shift back to the centre.

Most sectors are starting to learn from painful lessons in attempting to master this balance. We should all look beyond our own industries to absorb these lessons, as some may not (yet) have hit us, where for others the pendulum has already swung too far.

From our experience working across the public sector, retail, construction, manufacturing, finance, infrastructure, technology verticals, here are some observations to consider:

  1. Don’t throw out good governance and good decision-making in the pursuit of speed.
  2. In stripping out governance, critical checks and balances have slipped through the cracks.
  3. Agile at all costs hasn’t played out well for some industries;
  4. But it hasn’t halted or impacted the need for agility – what’s highlighted is the need for business agility and good governance.
  5. There’s now a shift back to the sensible stuff over the cool stuff. Previously, we’ve been aware of some situations where basic projects have been delayed e.g. software updates in favour of a bleeding edge proof of concept (POC).
  6. Innovation is not off table, just not innovation above all else.
  7. Leadership still matters, and so does how you govern and manage your portfolio of change.
  8. A number of businesses are ahead of this curve and were making changes before. They are navigating this change well because they readied processes while it was manageable and optional, instead of knee jerk action by force.
  9. There is still a need for all the right capabilities in place – it’s not a case of either / or.
  10. Neither governance, nor innovation, has to be put on the back burner. It is about achieving balance.

The last time we saw the private sector move this quickly was during the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2007 and 2008 which saw unprecedented reactions to grapple with recovery, and to restore faith in industries, business models, and workforces.

It’s not enough to hope that nothing knocks you off your balance, there are industries to watch, lessons to learn and actions to take to keep your organisational risk and innovation tightrope walk in check.

How has your company adapted to handling the current pace of change? Share your thoughts with us by registering to participate in our 2018 Transformation and PMO Survey. For more information call 1300 70 13 14.

About The Author

Andre Herbst, Account Director at PM-Partners group

Andre has spent the last 18+ years helping organisations achieve their goals via project and programme management. Working across a broad range of industry sectors including Financial Services, Public Sector, ICT and Capital Works he has facilitated and assisted organisations with Complex Transformations, Delivery Capability and improving the way projects are run.

Andre has a passion for the application of a pragmatic approach when leveraging the art and science of Portfolio, Programme and Project Management to achieve the desired results.

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