Add Risk to Your Job Title

It’s the future of the quality profession

by Greg Hutchins

Add risk to your job title if you’re a quality professional or a senior quality manager. This will enhance your marketability if you’re looking for a job and your chances for promotion if you’re employed.

If you’ve been a reader of this column, you know I’ve been evangelizing the fact that risk management is the future of quality. Much data supports this assertion.

Most global ISO 9001 registrars have rebranded themselves as risk enterprises. New families of standards—such as ISO 27000, ISO 22000 and ISO 28000—are risk based. Federal regulations—such as the Federal Aviation Administration’s Safety Management System, the Food and Drug Administration’s rules for medical devices and rules related to cyber security—are also risk based. The list could go on.

What are the drivers of risk management? Think about today’s volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA). VUCA is the new normal for business. All organizations face it.

Your employer or potential employer will want to know what you can do to control and mitigate VUCA. All quality professionals need to embrace VUCA and be proficient in two things: risk–based problem solving and risk–based decision making.

In March 2011, I gave a talk called "Risk Management: The Future of Quality" to my local ASQ section. Afterward, I received many requests for the visuals from the presentation and posted them on LinkedIn.

The visuals went viral and have been the No. 1 download in a dozen communities, including lean, process improvement, mechanical engineering and quality. The visuals have already been seen by thousands of readers because the general consensus is that risk management is already the future in many business sectors, such as food, drugs, aerospace and cyber security.

QP readers who would like a copy of the visuals should go to ASQ’s LinkedIn site at www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=3633 and look up the discussion on risk management. Or email me at gregh@europa.com, and I’ll send you a copy.

I believe risk management is also going to be the future of all management in today’s VUCA economy. Henry Lindborg, another "Career Corner" columnist, offers the following perspective on risk management:

"The discipline of contemporary leadership—as we’ve learned it from the military strategy—is mainly about VUCA. Today’s environment requires this orientation. Why? Followers want to know a leader doesn’t become disoriented by volatility or dispirited by uncertainty, that he or she is smart enough to handle complexity and mature enough to deal with ambiguity. Each of these presents a huge challenge for leaders communicating strategy because followers don’t often see all of the elements in the mix."

Based on science

Harvard Business School and other leading academic business schools are trying to make business management a true profession with a specialized body of knowledge that implements scientific principles such as evidence–based management.

Quality professionals are already experts in numerical problem solving. Evidence–based management that includes risk–based problem solving and decision making is the future of management. Quality professionals are well poised to migrate to these areas.  

We have the right credentials, including Six Sigma and lean certifications, which are often project and process focused. What we miss is the organizational emphasis on employing enterprise risk management.

How can you learn about enterprise risk management? Google the following for many articles on the topic:

  • Enterprise risk management.
  • Risk management.
  • Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission.
  • The Institute of Internal Auditors.
  • Risk Management Society.

I’ve been telling you about risk management for years. In today’s uncertain and volatile employment scene, don’t wait to learn about a topic that might save your career.

Greg Hutchins is the principal engineer with Quality + Engineering, a critical infrastructure protection firm headquartered in Portland, OR. He is a member of ASQ.

--Neil Slattery, 07-30-2015

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