A Sheep Can Beat You Up and Other Lessons in Risk Management

Improper risk assessment can be a hard teacher… Once upon a time, I lived on a small farm and I had some sheep. These were not your typical fat, wooly sheep, but rather a spry and wild breed, rather more like deer than sheep. One day, one of those sheep decided that it was going for a walk, jumping the fence and running off. I quickly gathered the assistance of some neighbors and we were soon in hot pursuit. Before long, we succeeded in ‘trapping’ it in a long, graveled driveway that was bounded by fences. It could not escape, but it still had room to run up and down the driveway. Here is where the hard lessons begin.

As I said, the sheep was in an enclosed area, but we still had to capture it. It was not very big, perhaps 35-40 lbs, and I figured I could just GRAB IT as it went by. My attempt at grabbing that sheep left me lying in the dirt with my left shoulder slightly dislocated and yelling "I’m hurt, I’m hurt!" One of my neighbors, who was assisting in the "pursuit," was also a nurse and she was able to simply lift my arm, rotate it slightly and slide it back into place. Well, I was not going to do that again.

In our next attempt, we tried to gang up on it. Three of us, side by side, spanned the driveway and approached the sheep, backing it into a corner. Cornered, and with nowhere to go, it turned back towards us, trotting up and assessing which one of us appeared to be the best one to attack. It chose me. This time it lowered its little head, bunched up its legs and drove its little 40 lb body with an amazing amount of energy directly into my chest – leveling me to the ground. By this time, the poor little critter was just about worn out and ready to fall over, and someone else finally was able to pin it down. When I went to work that following Monday, my left arm hung limply at my side, my chest was bruised, my back ached and I could barely walk. And now you know the story about the day the sheep beat me up.

Back then I learned some important lessons about sheep and Newton’s Laws of Motion. But my purpose for telling you this story is to discuss risk management. When considering risk, you have the option of transferring, avoiding, compensating or accepting the risk. I obviously did not adequately assess the nature of the risk I was putting myself in. I did bring some neighbors, so I could have transferred the risk and watched them get beat up instead of me. I could have avoided the risk and just let the silly sheep run loose and wait for it to come home. I could have done some compensating and worn a helmet, pads and brought a rope. But no, I did none of those things. I ACCEPTED the risk and jumped in with both feet, not realizing what I was getting in to.

Regardless of whether it’s animal control or a critical business decision, no one wants to make a bad risk assessment and get the stuffing knocked out of them. inContact has designed its products, implementation and support systems to help with your day-to-day risk management. In addition to our expert staff, who are devoted and available to assist you, we also understand the importance of transparency. One example of that is the completion of our SAS70 Type II audit of our data centers which we can now share with our customers who are looking for an independent assurance of our operational controls. Additionally, the Trust Department is charged with providing transparency around our systems and processes and can provide additional details around PCI, HIPAA and many of our internal processes. Don’t let some figurative sheep beat you up. if you have questions and need assurances, please contact our Trust Department. I don’t mind so much if people transfer some of their risk to me. I have a helmet, pads and rope now.

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