Yesterday I had the great pleasure of listening to a wonderfully engaging presentation by Alisa Camplin who won the gold medal in aerial skiing at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Her story of hard work, heartbreak and of course victory was compelling enough, however, when she said that she used Risk Management to get her across the line, you bet my senses became hyper-sensitive.
Alisa is a long-term IBM employee and now manager of hundreds of staff. During her quest for gold she was attending a presentation by one of IBM’s leading sales professionals. Read that again, yes I said “sales professionals”. He put up a risk matrix to help in developing IBM’s strategy to retain a very big, long-term contract. She said that from that moment she knew that she needed to apply Risk Management to her quest.
Here are a few gems that followed:
She showed a photo of herself under an umbrella about to start a jump at a world championship event. She was the only competitor that had taken the precaution of packing the umbrella that day. All her competitors were wet and cold.
She had a contingency plan designed for herself to ensure she was ready to perform at her peak if there was an extended rain delay should it occur, which it did from time to time.
She stayed up all night before a day of training to prepare herself in case she did not sleep well the night before her quest for gold.
She even hired a reserve coach in case her coach was ill on the day of the event.
So why is risk-based decision making better than all the rest? Because it asks us to do our best to think of everything and to then take our best shot.