Steve Schlarman

The Riskicist’s Guide: The Risk Synchronicity Theory

Blog Post created by Steve Schlarman Employee on Dec 13, 2018

My final theory of my Riskicist’s Guide for you to contemplate borrows from an interesting phenomenon in nature. Synchronization of seemingly random events in nature is not uncommon. Flocks of birds and schools of fish synchronize to ward off predators. Inanimate objects can even synchronize. The point is there is no one master object is necessary to give direction for these things to synchronize. In some cases it is instinct, some cases it is physics. But out of chaos comes order.

What does this have to do with the future of risk management?

Culture has a lot to do with risk management. In some respects, culture is one of most direct influences on how well your risk program works. Your program relies on people. And people have personalities. Just like we have dominant personality traits, every employee in your company has a risk personality and they display that personality in everyday life. Do they instinctively speed up when the stoplight is yellow or do they immediately go for the brake? Or do they take a split second to calculate? Do they play the lottery every week or is it only for suckers and a waste of money? Do they wait until the prize is big enough for them to wager?  These personality types vary across a company – and depending on the level of influence a person has within the organization – this risk personality affects the company’s culture. We have seen companies where risk taking – fueled by these personalities - has built empires or destroyed from within.

We need to contemplate the emerging views on what is risky and how that will affect our organization’s culture. We need to contemplate the expectation of the future workforce when it comes to managing risk through technology – and using technology to manage risk.

My last theory is: 

The forces of SYNCHRONICITY will affect your organization’s approach to risk management

MORE than any other force.

Your workforce - including the entry level risk analyst or security admin you hire in the future - is being built on digital natives – those not knowing a world without technology. Their RISK PERSONALITY will continue to change - and be different than many of the established cultural norms. As these new personalities enter your workforce, they will bring much potential. However, your culture will change and eventually your organization will synchronize to these new ways of thinking.

In a future digital world that will be based entirely on data, it will be the personalities of your organization that will be the difference between success and failure. These personalities may be difference between taking a risk that pays off – or missing an opportunity due to caution. For the risk management professional, we must anticipate that synchronization. More importantly, WE need to be ready to change with it and become open to controlled, risk taking. We must become comfortable with the uncomfortable.

So what does the future of risk management look like? As much as I would like it, I can’t see into the future. Even with these theories, it is difficult to know exactly what will come. We know amazing technological advances are coming our way. We know we will change how we think about risk. Your digital transformation will force new paradigms; your workforce will demand new approaches.

When it comes to what we, as a risk management community, need to think about going forward, we have some clear indicators. One thing I know is risk management will be all about speed. Risk management cannot be a hindrance in your organization moving forward. You are faced with a complex and fast-moving landscape that requires an evolution towards Integrated Risk Management. We can use a Cartesian space – horizontal and vertical integration through people, processes and technology - to guide us. We can prepare ourselves for the rapid changes in risk. We will need to factor time into our risk equations. We must also anticipate this synchronization factor.

Our industry is on an evolutionary path and sitting on the precipice of a new digital world.  RSA has been leading the pack in building technology solutions over the past 35 years and proud to be part of your journey. My final thought to leave you with is this…

The future is not in FRONT of you…

It is BUILT on you.

I know you are up for the challenge.


This blog series is based on my keynote from the RSA Archer Summit 2018.