Wednesday, April 21, 2010


There is no doubt that a million years from now our individual lives and actions will prove to be of little lasting significance. Nevertheless, we are destined to promote our immediate personal interests to the best of our abilities. Have you dwelt on what the best way to achieve this? There are many solutions of course.

The intention of this opening statement is to sharpen the focus on the here and now; also to reveal the individual’s exposures in a broader society or in regulated self-interest vehicles such as companies. We should not consider ourselves immune to, or shielded from, the effects of large positive or negative events, either because we are not the boss or responsibility is not specified in our job description.

What is meant by ‘risk is personal’ and what does this mean in our lives? There are many factors for us as individuals to reflect on; here are a few of them:

  1. Many of us shy away from thinking about the personal impact of the risks that we encounter in a group, team or association. Why confront such potential nightmares if we don’t have to? In SA as in many other countries, there are many more pleasant distractions. We tacitly encourage ourselves to escape our responsibilities by saying it is not our problem. This is neither true, nor does it encourage constructive behaviour! A useful motivator for new legislation then.
  2. ‘Corporate Risk’ is a convenient yet obfuscatory umbrella label which some use to shield or obscure the responsibility and personal exposure of the individual. Gone are the days when consumers have no rights.
  3. Corporate Governance standards were established for various reasons. One of these was because some individuals conducting business, not just in corporations, thought that certain laws, rules or morals didn’t apply to them.
  4. Ignorance abounds in the field of Corporate Governance / Risk Management legislation within the numerous levels and functions of business. What are your latest responsibilities, more work for the same pay no doubt, but what are the longer term benefits?
  5. Lucrative business models recognise and reward positive individual and team performance success over a prolonged period when compared to the market average. Where would you prefer to be?
  6. New legislation increases the reporting responsibilities and accountability of directors and officers in business. If you are not directly affected by this then you can guarantee that the individuals who are will surround themselves with hand-picked support staff. Would they choose you to contribute to their teams?

You can debate or ignore the above points if you like. However, it would be madness to believe that when your employer or team encounters a major problem, that you would remain magically insulated from the effects. To put it more simply, if they lose, you lose too.

The tide is turning. We are quickly approaching a tipping point of sorts; transparency is coming into the practice of business regardless of size. Logically this means that there will be knock-on effects for individuals too, the primary one being the need to take responsibility for your actions.

So where to from here? We are faced with the usual choices, to buy-in and self-improve, ignore it do nothing and hope it goes away or there’s always the King Canute option, to demonstrate through our activities that there is nothing we can do to stem the tide.

To close on a positive note, I heartily recommend that you choose to give yourself the best chance to win the business evolution race and adapt to your changing environment.

Paul Brightman - ART (Pty) Ltd.

Creators of Risk Therapy. or or or

+27 (0) 83 708 3634 & +27 (0) 11 646 2777.

Websites or or

ART is an authorised Financial Services Provider - FSP16339.

No comments: