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Project Manager : Project Manager Aug Sep 2011
16 Project Manager THOUGHT LEADERS Dr David Hillson is recognised internationally as a leading thinker and expert practitioner in risk management, and he writes and speaks widely on the topic. He specialises in both strategic and tactical risk, with a particular interest in risk psychology. THE IKEA APPROACH TO RISK IKEA is the world’s largest furniture retailer, with more than 250 stores in 25 countries supplying about 12,000 products. Most IKE A products are designed to be assembled by the consumer. This requires particular attention to user instructions to avoid unnecessary frustration and mistakes when the customer tries to build their new furniture at home. Keeping it simple IKEA user instructions use as few words as possible, with lots of pictures to illustrate the required actions. This is supported by an intuitive design, which tries to make it obvious how the piece of furniture should be put together. The goal is to make the task of self-assembly foolproof, so that anyone can construct the furniture correctly just by following simple instructions and using a few basic tools. How different this is from most business process descriptions, including those that tell you how to perform risk management. The majority of processes use words only, with few or no pictures. The underlying process design is not intuitive, so the user must refer to the process documentation to find out what to do next. The tools are not easy to use and often require specialist knowledge or expertise. And the process is certainly not foolproof, so people make simple mistakes that could easily be avoided. The IKEA way to manage risk Managing risk would be much easier if we adopted the IKE A approach to documenting the r isk process. This means that we should: • Provide a checklist of what is needed at the start, and describe the intended outcome; • Use the minimum number of words, with diagrams illustrating the most important parts of the process; • Ensure that all instructions can be understood by a normal person, with no specialist jargon or technical language; • Design the process logically so that it is obvious what to do next; • Provide all the required tools and make sure they do exactly what is needed; • Use high-quality components that have been well-tested and proved to work; and • Check that nothing essential has been left out before we release the process. Preparation is key A common problem with self-assembly is lack of preparation. Everyone wants to start making their furniture straight away, and they think they can do it without reading the instructions. Then they hit a problem and they have to go back to the documentation to find out where they went wrong. It would be much better if we followed the documented process the first time. This also happens when managing risk. People often believe they can do it themselves without having to follow a process. But a well-designed process can make it so much easier to succeed. If our risk process has simple steps in a logical order, described using few words and clear illustrations, supported by tools that work and are easy to use, then we will soon get the job done with minimum hassle and maximum satisfaction. ••• Why the risk process should be modelled on IKEA assembly instructions. BY DAVID HILLSON, THE RISK DOCTOR
June July 2011
Project Manager Oct Nov 2011