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Job – Office support – part time, casual, Albany Creek

Office Assistant / Support Manager

(New, part-time, casual role in Albany Creek)

Snapshot:

  • Office Assistant / Support Manager role for very small management consulting business based in Albany Creek and that is growing rapidly.
  • Will suit someone local to Albany Creek:
    • with a broad office management or management background
    • who wants part time work for at least the next few months
    • who is happy doing a mix of routine and more challenging work
    • with strong computer and or internet skills
    • who can communicate well with senior executives and experienced professionals
  • Part time casual for three months, with possible extension longer term. Minimum of 1 day per week (average), variable week by week.  Some work can be from home.
  • From $375 – $500 per day, plus 9.5% Super. Negotiable, depending upon your range of skills and experience.
  • Bring your enthusiasm and your sense of humour. Be prepared to work in a team, build relationships and to come on a learning journey. It can be fun – and when it isn’t, we can share the load.
  • To see more about us visit: riskiq.com.au.

Please Note:

  • This is NOT a full time or almost full-time role and it is a casual role.
  • You do need to have some experience of office/management work and to be very comfortable using computers and the internet.
  • You will need to be flexible on which days and how many are worked each week.
  • You need to be capable of more than good admin work. You will be expected to become a member of a small team doing all kinds of things.
  • You do need to be able to work in a fast-moving and sometimes complex work environment. You will have to think for yourself and show initiative.

If you are pretty sure that you could thrive in this role, please send an email and contact details to Richard – rbarber@riskiq.com.au.   I’ll send you more info about the role and the selection process.

Apply ASAP via email.   The role will close COB Friday 12th August unless filled sooner by a splendid candidate.

Risk leadership – moving culture from threat avoidance to innovation and managed risk

One of the most satisfying experiences of my professional life was contributing to a cultural transformation that was driven in significant part by engaging leaders in new risk leadership thinking and practice.

Department X provided lands and planning services to Government and the community.  After a long period of autocratic executive leadership and several changes in Government, the prevailing culture was focused on survival and on risk avoidance.   Decisions at all levels tended to be isolated (silo’d) and process bound.  Very little innovation was occurring at any level.

With a new CEO, a risk leadership conversation was initiated with the top four tiers of management.  Several large-group workshops were held over a period of 12 months, while at the same time internal policies were reviewed top-down to reduce micromanagement and red tape.  The Systemic Risk Leadership model was tailored and then implemented, with a strong focus on supporting effective and consistent decision making at all levels.  How decisions were made became as much a focus as the decisions themselves.

Over a period of two years, both thinking and practice moved significantly.  Simply walking through the Department showed that people had a new sense of vitality and a desire and an ability to find ways to improve and succeed.   Improvements were now being generated spontaneously and with confidence bottom-up.  Significantly, there was less risk documentation but much more risk conversation.

This transformation was created by many factors and was made possible by consistent leadership.  Moving how leaders thought about and practiced risk management from compliance and threat management, to leadership focused and systemic was a critical part of this.

Seeking consistency and predictability – a recipe for poor performance

In a complex changing world we need to adapt if we wish to deliver the best possible outcomes.  Sticking to a plan or to objectives we set some time ago might feel reassuring but it probably means that we will suboptimise.  When opportunities present themselves, do we respond or do we stick to our current objectives and goals?

Consider the drive to “reduce variation” in processes.  As we apply clearer, tighter controls we also reduce the ability of the system to adapt and change.  When we want to change (to adapt and improve) we not only have to change our policies, processes or rules.  We also have to get permission to work outside expectations, outside norms, outside existing controls.   Often, deciding what to change turns out to be the easy part.

While individuals can be “risk averse” by nature, much of our innovation challenge lies with business systems that fight against change, against difference, against variability.   The question for leaders is not just about creating a culture of change and adaptation.  They also need to know how to create business systems that drive for maximum performance even as contexts change, rather than business systems that ensure objectives and plans are met and standards are achieved.

Are your business systems holding you back?  To explore this further contact Richard Barber at rbarber@riskiq.com.au.

“System Capability Audits” – the necessary next step in management auditing

Compliance auditing is very familiar to most of us.  Useful as far as it goes, the value of compliance auditing is limited.  In a rapidly changing world fixed rules are often out of date and compliance to rules does not mean that an organisation is performing well or that it will perform well in future.

Many of us are also familiar with performance auditing, which focuses on whether agreed outcomes are being met and if not, why not.  Performance audits require skill, experience and high situational awareness but they too have limits to their value.  Not achieving targets may be due more to external forces than to poor management and the achievement of specific targets can be at the cost of performance in other areas.  In a changing world, the ability to achieve targets set 12 months earlier is of limited value when the targets themselves should be moving.

System Capability Audits take the next step, to test the capability of whole business systems in their current and emerging context.  Although existing rules, standards and performance targets are still relevant, systems capability audits go much further by exploring how the dynamics within an organisation enable it to maximise (or otherwise) achievement of its purpose.

To do this System Capability Audits use a process of open inquiry and systemic analysis to discover what happens and why, and how those dynamics contribute to (or detract from) the possible delivery of the purpose.   This is true systems thinking work from first principles.  It can be scary and difficult and because it reveals underlying root causes (cans of worms) it can be a thankless task.

Nonetheless, System Capability Auditing is necessarily the way of the future.  In a world of uncertainty and change, it is the only effective way to validate governance systems and to predict future performance.  It is a powerful tool for those leaders willing to grasp the nettle and take the risk.

Innovation – getting the fundamentals in place first

Whether or not innovation routinely happens is an emergent outcome of our organisational system as a whole.  For example, in an organisation with “tight control, top down direction” it will be difficult for innovation to emerge.  Likewise, in an organisation with unclear purpose or vision, initiatives are unlikely to be focused, clear and successful.  For innovation to flourish, the whole organisational system must make this possible.  The good news for senior leaders frustrated by a lack of innovation is that it is possible to change this by focusing on just a few fundamentals.  A couple are mentioned below to illustrate.

We need a felt accountability to “maximise outcomes, not just meet targets”.   Many organisations have a shared belief (culture) that “our job is to deliver agreed targets”.   For innovation to be routine, a different culture is needed – one where everybody believes that they have an obligation to maximise what is achieved.  Sometimes this means going beyond what is initially planned – but it can also be true when the best possible outcome falls short of plans.  Either way, if we could innovate but don’t do so, then we are not doing our job.  Appropriate innovation is an obligation, not an option.

The focus of performance management must be on behaviours, not outputs.   It can be scary to innovate, if only because it raises the question of how performance will be judged.  Outputs and outcomes are just indicators of how well a person is doing their work – that is, their workplace behaviour.  Likewise, good innovation requires effective leadership and decision-making behaviours.  This means that we can identify behaviours that support innovation.  It also means that we can performance manage for innovation.

Current executive leaders were trained and gained experience in the 80s and 90s when innovation was not a universal focus.  Some of the underlying lessons and beliefs this created need to be challenged, tested and adapted so that real innovation becomes not only possible but an essential part of every job.

If you want to create an innovative workplace and would like assistance, feel free to get in contact at rbarber@RiskIQ.com.au.

Risk Policy – A core element of emerging risk management best-practice

Clear risk policy is a critical element of good governance.  This is true for organisations.  It is true for business and government sectors.  It is also true for communities and society at large.

If the words “risk” and “policy” are taken to have their generally accepted meanings:

  • Effective leaders provide clear policy direction on acceptable levels of risk and uncertainty.  Most organisations have a very low tolerance for safety risks in their workplaces.  However some other kinds of risk (such as the risk of project delays due to poor weather) may be tolerated to a much greater extent.  At a society level, there may be a very low tolerance for risks associated with the health and well being of older people but a much greater tolerance for the risk that young people may be hurt playing sport.  Risk polices have powerful, practical implications for resource prioritisation and for governance systems.  Lack of “risk appetite” policy leaves organisations and Governments vulnerable to sub-optimisation and to inconsistency of focus.
  • Effective leaders provide clear direction on the uncertainty (risk) management approach(es) to be applied.  In some simple contexts it may be appropriate to apply ISO31000 as the default risk management approach for the whole organisation, sector or system.    However this will not be effective in many contexts and is certainly not enough when seeking to maximise the positive outcomes for Australia over coming decades.  In complex contexts it is critical that a “systems” approach is taken that embraces uncertainty and focuses on how best to achieve core outcomes over time despite constantly changing uncertainties and priorities.   Lack of clear policy on risk management approach(es) leaves organisations, communities and society vulnerable to emerging events as they unfold and ultimately to sub-optimised outcomes and to avoidable disasters.
  • Effective leaders build organisations and systems to deal with inherent vulnerabilities.  A risk is only a risk if a vulnerability exists and there is also an associated threat.  There is enormous advantage to be gained, especially in highly complex social systems, in making sure that we first understand vulnerabilities.  This allows us to work on those vulnerabilities over time  as part of what we do by modifying our systems as a whole.   This permanently reduces or manages those vulnerabilities regardless of the threats that may (or may not) be seen or understood as they emerge.

The Australian Risk Policy Institute (ARPI) is working at the forefront of risk policy in Australia and globally.

 

 

Risk management today – on the edge of change

It is easy to show that traditional risk management approaches are useful to a point (they are much better than no risk management at all) AND also that they are far from the best approach to uncertainty in organisations.   AS/NZS ISO31000 may represent accepted practice but it is certainly not best possible practice, even when applied within a larger Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) approach.

The world we live in is complex and constantly changing.  We also face constant uncertainty simply because people are involved and this means that everything we do is impacted upon by intangible factors such as relationships, agendas, and biases.  Many of these are hidden and unknowable or at best can be inferred from behaviour.   Let’s not leave out risks that are sensitive to talk about because they involve people.  It’s not likely that you will feel free to list the incompetence of your boss as a source of risk in your risk register, despite the huge impact that this could have on your future success!

Traditional forms of risk register are NEVER the whole risk story.  They can’t be, even in an organisation that is working well and succeeding.  This is demonstrated whenever disasters or serious failures are investigated.  In almost every case some or all of the major sources of risk were NOT in the risk register.  If we accept that risk registers are never the whole story and that many risks are hidden, intangible, subtle and inter-related then we have to look beyond current accepted risk management approaches.  They simply are not enough.

Arguably, we should re-frame risk management from first principles.  What is a risk and what is it a risk to?  How can leaders make the best possible decisions when always faced with uncertainty including unknowable unknowns?  How do we find the root causes and leverage points in complex, inter-related organisational issues, factors and sources of risk?  What do we do about risks that are hard to talk about, let alone write down?

Today, right now, what advice and support can risk professionals give to leaders of organisations so that they are able to make the best possible decisions in our uncertain, complex world?   What does best practice risk management really look like?

For some thinking  and practical responses to these questions go to www.manex.com.au or to www.RiskIQ.com.au.    Or simply surf the web looking for people working innovatively on risk and uncertainty.

Risk – a better definition

Definitions are boring and arguing about them is even worse.  Rather than saying why and how current risk definitions are ineffective, limiting, this post simply provides a useful, powerful definition of risk.

 

A risk is any threat to the maximum achievement of our purpose

 

Using this definition makes a material difference.  It changes the level and nature of risk conversations and requires decision makers to do more than just “tick the boxes” to achieve satisfactory outcomes.

 

Feel free to ask questions, to challenge and collaborate.   manexpl@bigpond.net.au.

Analysis of uncertainty – powerful yet seldom used

All too often, leaders dealing with uncertainty spend some time understanding the problem context and then use their experience and intuition to decide what to do in response.   This may be okay in familiar or simple situations – provided of course that you want to repeat you past experiences.

The trouble is, intuition and experience are inside your current paradigms, thinking and behaviours.  So if you don’t want to repeat mistakes or if you simply want to lift performance to a new level it is essential to do something more.   Something that might cause you to understand more than you did and to make decisions you would not previously have entertained.

One way to challenge and to expand your paradigms is to use analysis.  When problem data is critically examined and is subject to analysis you may be surprised, even shocked and confounded, by the results.  This is because effective analytical methods are independent of your personal assumptions – and can draw conclusions that are in your blind spots.

There are powerful, well understood ways of analysing most problems involving uncertainty – whether that uncertainty creates risks, opportunities or both to what you are trying to do.  For example, future project cost estimates can often be made much more robust and reliable using techniques such as Monte Carlo simulation.  Less well understood is that new qualitative techniques such as Systemic Risk Analysis can provide powerful analytical insights into how and why to work on unmeasurable factors that drive performance – such as culture, business systems and strategies.

Are you using intuition and experience to make decisions when analysis could enrich and change your thinking?  Investing in analysis could be the catalyst that makes the difference.

 

 

Sensitive risks – real, deadly and often not dealt with

Sensitive risks don’t get a lot of press – perhaps because (by definition) they are not easy to talk about or to manage.  Sensitive causes of risk abound – for example, when a colleague is distracted by important personal issues it is less likely that they will be effective in their work and if true, this creates risks to success.  Despite the risks created, this is likely to be ignored completely or to be handled on the quiet.  Even if it is handled well, it will almost never be entered into any form of risk report or risk register.  This is yet another reason why any risk management framework that relies heavily on risk registers is flawed.

Some might say that this kind of problem is a “management issue” rather than a source of risk, since the risk event has already happened.  Not so.  If we limit risk management to “events that might happen” we deal with only some of our sources of risk.    In any case, separating risks and issues into two different categories is “reductionist”.  It compartmentalises them for no good reason except to make them seem easier to manage.   The reality is that this leads to poorly integrated responses that are sub-optimal and that can often be shown to have perverse unintended consequences.

Risk consequences can be sensitive too.  For example, a risk of project delays can be sensitive if delays are politically unacceptable or unpalatable.  Leaving aside questions of integrity and transparency, people often avoid documenting or reporting risks if the possible consequences have flow-on implications that are hard to write down.

Internally generated risks (IGR) were mentioned in a previous post.  IGR are often sensitive, if only because they arise from within and may imply criticism of our managers, colleagues, staff or stakeholders.

Any organisation that wishes to deal well with uncertainty, whether threats or opportunities, needs to be good at finding and managing risks that are sensitive.    This is difficult precisely because of the nature of the risks.  Fortunately, there are ways of building the internal people and process capabilities necessary.  Unfortunately, those capabilities are closely linked with leadership and culture and are not easily shifted.

Show me an adaptive, flexible project or organisation that manages risks well in uncertain times and I will show you a strong, capable leader who tackles sensitive, difficult issues that others avoid.