In our Topic of the Month series this month, we are featuring practices to improve governance and ownership structures over key areas of Operations management. Last week, we kicked things off with a case around establishing ownership for various components of the customer experience.

This week, we’re focusing on risk. Enforcing risk management strategies is difficult for Operations executives, because risk is a complicated, technical topic that most Operations staff view as separate from their routine responsibilities. Few are willing to take ownership of risk management and prevention, and there’s a common mentality among staff that risk awareness is “not my problem”. However, to other functions across the enterprise, Operations is regarded as a key player in risk mitigation, particularly when it comes to minimizing the impact of operational risks on the end customer.

That’s where our practice this week around Risk Champions comes in. The profiled institution finds that employees across various business units in Operations are generally apathetic toward risk management strategies, increasing the firm’s exposure to financial and operational threats. They decide to designate special “Risk Champions” in each business area, who are regular employees put through special trainings to understand and manage risks in their line of work. Over time, Risk Champions become trusted partners within business areas, serving as intermediaries between the functions that develop risk policies and strategies, and the employees who must carry out those strategies.