Light at Risk: The Expected & Unexpected
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines expected as to think that something will probably or certainly happen. With that in mind, the opposite, unexpected means something is unclear if anything will even happen at all.
In the wake of Hurricane Florence, many are preparing to ensure personal safety and the safety of others.
With our university’s closure this week, I tweaked schedules and created a change of plans.
How ironic, my course discussion plan for Friday is to introduce safety and risk management. I shared a few insights and tasks with my students to encourage engagement in the topic before we are back to learning in the space between our classroom walls.
When considering potential risks there are times we can expect and prepare and then there are other times when we must prepare for the unexpected.
For example, when we know a hurricane is heading our direction we can make preparations to be prepared, however, the complexity of the hurricane is that the damage and direction is unexpected. It is anticipated but the outcome is somewhat unknown.
To understand this better we can use a risk matrix to consider the likelihood of a risk to occur and possible consequences associated with a specific risk. Through a sport management lens potential risks during sporting events are severe weather, player injury, active shooter, death of a spectator or participant sneaking in without paying to name a few.
The Project Management Blueprint uses the following table as one example for describing likelihood and consequences of potential risk.
A moderate likelihood could be that I slip and fall on a piece of equipment during an event and have a minor consequence of a cut or bruise. Or the likelihood of me having a fatal accident is unlikely to occur, however, the consequence would be major.
I’m going to use the Tough Mudder as an example.
I am a tough mudder, I received my orange headband in 2011.
By participating in an event such as the Tough Mudder I place myself at risk by participating in the event. The organization creates a waiver, which for Tough Mudder is called the death waiver. I signed it back in 2011. Here is a recent clip of obstacles one might expect to encounter.
The participant in the event understands the potential risk of expected and unexpected consequences for participating. In addition, the Tough Mudder organization is responsible for participants and fans. The organization is accountable to the choices made regarding the assessment of potential risks at the annual events.
In April 2013 Tough Mudder experienced their first participant death. In the textbook titled, “Sport Facility and Event Management,” Thomas Aicher, Linda Schoenstedt, and Amanda Paule-Koba (2016) share a case study about the events of that day in a chapter about risk management. The case study has students consider risk management procedures, emergency protocols, and development of a risk management plan. Watch a brief video clip here from Outside Magazine that highlights a view of the event on that day that a participant lost his life.
After watching the video consider the above about what might be expected or unexpected during a Tough Mudder event. .
What is the responsibility of the participant and that of the organization?
There is personal risk and organizational risk.
With the expected and unexpected potential risk it can be somewhat clear and unclear as to what to expect. However, the accountability is on all parties to identify the major to minor likelihoods and major to minor consequences. The light (person or organization) at risk should consider the probability of all potential scenarios by:
1. Preparing: Ask the “what if” questions & develop effective response strategies
2. Being aware: Put in the time to understand all possible scenarios
3. Rehearsing: Practice, practice, practice your response plans for major and minor scenarios
“You take unacceptable risk, you have to be prepared to face the consequences.” Carly Fiorina