In today’s interconnected world, risks are not bound by regional or national boundaries; its consequences are felt across other geographies and across multiple fields, due to the ripple effect nature of interdependence.
COVID-19 is a stark reminder to organizations and countries on how a localized problem can turn into a catastrophe, with a far-reaching impact. In our interconnected and interdependent world, we are starting to see the repercussion of COVID-19 across multiple areas:
- Risk of insufficient facilities to care for patients – resulting in prioritization decisions regarding care. People suffering from pre-existing conditions are especially vulnerable to the risk of death.
- Risk of insufficient medical and sanitization supplies.
- Risk of healthcare providers getting sick while trying to save others’ lives, adding to the downward spiral in available care.
- Risk of social isolation, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
- Risk of increased stress due to a sudden change to virtual life, social distancing, and lockdowns.
- Risk of lifelong emotional baggage – for not being able to meet and/or care for loved ones who may be in a different geographic area.
- Risk of losing a significant amount of retirement funds.
- Risk of losing job and livelihood, not knowing whether or how to feed oneself and the family.
- Risk of lost opportunities for individuals as well as businesses who were at the cusp of a breakthrough, with many events canceled.
Therefore, how we prepare for risks, and how we handle it makes all the difference. If anything, COVID-19 has taught us the following key lessons already:
- The risks (known or unknown risk) must be identified early and addressed effectively so that its negative impact is minimized.
- If you do not have the means (tools/techniques) to solve the problem yourself, collaborate and engage with others to develop solutions.
- Having a “not my problem” attitude to risks can be detrimental as it can come to haunt you.
- Educate and engage all stakeholders, relate to their everyday actions and develop shared responsibility to address the root cause of risk.
- Learn from available data, take proactive measures to understand the evolving nature of risk, apply best practices to deal with the situation to prevent its spread and impact to other areas.
While risks are considered inherently negative, COVID-19 also presents opportunities for collaboration, philanthropy, community service, and scientific breakthrough. Once we get past this hump, there will be a lot more to learn in the field of risk management and strategy, as we see context-based solutions applied to address this pandemic across the world.