Risky Business

It was like you were in a war zone or something.  Tires were flying by and smoke and everything else.”(1)

Terry Huckaby was an eyewitness to chaos this past weekend, seated eleven rows from the front stretch fence at Daytona Motor Speedway.  From his seat, he watched as Kyle Larson’s car went airborne, crashing into the catch fence on the final lap of the Nationwide Series race.  Debris, including an entire car engine, tore through the protective barrier and landed in the stands, injuring over 30 people.

We’re really lucky.  That could have been a lot worse than it was.” (1)

View the video here:

News reports indicate that NASCAR is investigating the issue.  Risk is inherent in their sport, where cars scream around a track at over 200 miles per hour with barely an inch separating one bumper from the next.  Still, when tragedies occur, it is common to reexamine protocol to see what can be done to assure things run smoothly.  NASCAR is no exception, considering measures to minimize the threat to fans when accidents occur, as well as methods for preventing the crashes in the first place.

While our companies may not be operating in such life-and-death circumstances on a daily basis, there is a lot we can learn from those who do.  Risk mitigation should not be a product of unfortunate outcomes, but rather, an integral part of advance planning.  Here are three key questions to consider next time you are implementing something new:

Question 1:  What could go wrong?  We often try to banish naysayers during the planning process.  We say their negativity drags us down.  But the truth is there is tremendous value in anticipating problems that might occur in any implementation.  Identifying what could go wrong is the first step in preventing delays, cost overruns, or worse.
Question 2: How do we reduce the likelihood of it happening?  Spend some time brainstorming the actions to reduce the likelihood of things going wrong on your project.  Think of the typical root causes of those problems and cut them off at the source.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Question 3:  How do we minimize the negative impact if problems do occur?  Murphy was right.  Anything that can go wrong… will.  Even with our preventive actions, there is still a chance that things will go haywire.  So, take some extra time to determine how you will respond when problems occur, and pre-assign tasks to minimize the impact on your projects.



(1) Quotes appear in an article on ESPN.com by David Newton.  The full article can be found here.





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