Discover the Upside of Risk

An Article for the Journal of Government Financial Management written by David Fisher, Thomas Holland, Idalia More & Kate Sylvis

Before the COVID-19 pandemic forced government agencies to quickly alter the way they work, pressures of expanded missions, taxpayer and lawmaker expectations, multifaceted operations, rapid communications, big data, the internet of things, and a shrinking workforce were already becoming burdensome. Present times demand leader readiness to respond to emerging risks with new approaches and technologies to improve operations. 

Senior agency leaders are primarily responsible for ensuring an organization meets its mission. In the federal government, those in Senior Executive Service positions must demonstrate certain core competencies, or Executive Core Qualifications. Also applicable to leaders at other levels of government service today, one essential qualification is the ability to lead organizational change with resilience, strategic thinking and innovation to help the agency meet its goals. In cases where traditional methods have proved unsuccessful, change may be needed, and leaders may need to implement innovative risk responses to protect the agency from systemic and/or emerging risks. Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) is a way to handle the uncertainty inherent in innovation; to manage change, which may include improving critical business processes and programs; and protect the mission. 

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