If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you’ve got there?

If you are engulfed by the issues of the day you will face the real risk of not being the relevant, both now and in the transition towards the future.

Open water swimming

To illustrate this challenge we can draw an analogy to swimming a race in open water. For anyone who has ever swam in the sea, a lake or a river, this will be familiar.

You can put in a tremendous amount of effort to stay afloat and try and swim as fast a possible, but if you do not check on a regular basis where you are going you may get lost… and others with you…

There’s no denying that you will swim straighter when you see the bigger picture and understand the way to the finish. Many swimmers do swim straight, but when trying to swim a race and fatigue hits, one of the things you tend to forget first, is looking where you are and where to go (called sighting).

So, you tend to follow the person in front of you (called drafting). The likelihood is that this person also may not really know where to go. He or she might be just as lost as you are and sending you both off course!

As a result, whilst putting in an enormous effort to swim as fast as possible, you run the risk of swimming in the wrong direction. You might find yourself in a pack that separates from the rest and heads way off course. If lucky, you will be scooped up by the safety team…

Similarly, it is neither possible for us to guide ourselves nor other swimmers (people working within the organisation) in the right direction when the risk managers feel preoccupied and overwhelmed due to the fires they fight each day.

What can you do?

To address this risk one can start by ask the following questions:

  • What can we do to become less engulfed by the issues of the day and see the bigger picture?
  • How do we build the capacity in our teams to adapt, innovate and lead change?
  • How do we develop the right attitude, knowledge and skills that will help us to be relevant, now and in the future?