I’m pleased to introduce my new risk management mascot, Sadie, a Belgian Malinois or Dutch Shepherd. She joined our family in July after we lost our shepherd mix Dusty. Sadie is a rescue dog from the local SPCA so she came with some emotional baggage (don’t we all?). This breed is often trained as police or personal protection dogs since they are smart, agile and quick. Her former owner trained Sadie for personal protection but she was trained compulsively so she follows her commands out of fear, not to please us. Therefore Sadie is afraid of a lot of stuff. Thunderstorms turn her into a quivering bowl of dog gelatin while seeking cover under anything (including me or a piece of furniture).
I see correlations between Sadie’s behaviors and the actions organizations take to manage risk. As a fearful dog she is volatile and becomes aggressive quickly. She is very protective of us (that was what she was bred for – to protect sheep from predators). Consequently I am always slightly on edge, vigilantly trying to identify any threats that will send her into her crazy dog state. Sadie doesn’t like people on bicycles, skateboards, scooters or inline skates (seeing a pattern?). When she sees a skateboarder she goes berserk, barking, running in circles, jumping and won’t listen to commands (I had a manager like that once). But if I get her attention before crossing into the “red zone” I can influence her behavior. Similarly an organization that identifies and manages its risks before a loss, can also avoid chaos.
To further complicate things, Sadie was taught her commands in German which we uncovered when we met a woman that knew Sadie from her former life. We couldn’t figure out why a “trained” dog wouldn’t sit, stay and lie down. After a Google search for German dog commands we could finally talk to Sadie and have her respond. Keeping with the risk management analogy, risk managers often speak a foreign language (Klingon perhaps) – risk, exposure, risk or loss control, loss prevention, peril, not to mention insurance-speak. It’s my job to translate my risk language to your business language so we can work together and accomplish a lot.
Follow the adventures of Sadie as we deal with her behavior issues and risk management. She graduated recently from Basic Obedience Training and begins her advanced training soon. Anyone who has ever trained a dog knows it’s the human that is being trained not the dog. So I have a lot to learn. Sadie will have her own Twitter account and eventually a Facebook fan page. Look for her barks (tweets) and words of wisdom.