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Always learn. Learn all ways. “Managing Risk: A Leadership and Learning Perspective”. A presentation at the FMI Ontario Chapter P.D. Day St. Michael’s College. Prepared by: James Kendrick, PhD Chief Learning Officer and Director, OPS Learning & Development CFLL February 17, 2010.

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managing risk a leadership and learning perspective

Always learn. Learn all ways.

“Managing Risk:A Leadership and Learning Perspective”

A presentation at theFMI Ontario Chapter P.D. DaySt. Michael’s College

Prepared by: James Kendrick, PhD

Chief Learning Officer and Director, OPS Learning & Development


February 17, 2010

The Changing World

The OPS Context

Today’s Key Message



Key Leadership Shifts

Factors that Impact Risk Management

Covey’s “First Things First” (1994)

Managing Risk by Minimizing Decision-making Errors

The Johari Window

Leaders Get into Trouble When

Organizational Consequences

Learning as a Value Proposition

Learning Definitions

Single-Loop and Double-Loop Learning

When do Organizations Fail to Learn?

Managing Risk in the OPS

the changing world

World economic crisis

Security and mobility




Citizens’ expectations


Policy-program-service delivery links

Think globally, act domestically

Horizontal and vertical integration

Leadership and outcomes focus

Minority governments

The Changing World
the ops context
The OPS Context
  • A new global and domestic scene:
    • Ontario’s growing interdependence on other countries
    • Economic protectionism in U.S.
    • Trust and ethics issues
    • $25 billion deficit
    • Increasing life span
    • Decreasing fertility rates
    • Immigration not a quick fix
the ops context cont d
The OPS Context (Cont’d)
  • A vibrant and professional workforce:
    • OPS widely recognized employer of choice
    • Home to best and brightest in province
    • Delivers excellent public programs and services
  • OPS needs to maintain its relevance:
    • Doing more of the same even if it is better will not be good enough
    • To remain relevant, the OPS will need to continue to evolve and adapt
    • OPS must be modern, proactive and engaging
today s key message
Today’s Key Message



… the process whereby power is exercised, decisions are made, citizens or stakeholders are given voice, and account is rendered on important issues…


… the ability to influence a group toward the achievement of common goals …

key leadership shifts
Key Leadership Shifts
  • Technical proficiency (1970s)
  • Integrated leadership with emphasis on behavioural and experiential development (1980s/1990s)
  • Refined basics with focus on key themes, e.g. results-oriented management, managing across boundaries, innovation and change, service delivery (2000s) …
factors that impact risk management
Factors That Impact Risk Management
  • Organizational size and structure
  • Communication systems and mechanisms
  • Decision-making processes
  • Relationship between lines and functions
  • Ability to question freely organizational assumptions, e.g. being able to challenge ways of doing things without disrupting service
  • Effective use of technology
  • Organizational culture
  • Performance and reward systems
managing risk by minimizing decision making errors
Managing Risk by Minimizing Decision-making Errors

Type I Errors:

    • occur when information is accepted as true when it is actually false
    • Making a decision that should not have been made
  • Type I Errors:
    • occur when the organization accepts as false information that is actually true
    • Not making a decision that should have been made
leaders get into trouble when
Leaders Get Into Trouble When …
  • They overshoot on friendly behaviour, e.g.
    • find it difficult to say, “No!”
    • do not want to make waves
    • do not provide “honest” assessments or feedback
  • They overdo obedience to the chain of command, e.g.
    • accept blindly task authority and task structure
    • adhere to established ways of doing things
    • uses authority to influence others and to get things done
  • They underemphasize active leadership toward common goals, e.g.
    • do not take up enough space and dominance
    • will not speak out or validate assumptions
organizational consequences
Organizational Consequences …
  • No innovation and creativity
  • Not enough comprehensive treatment of issues
  • Not enough rigorous debate about assumptions and options
  • No bold advice provided to senior leaders and/or elected officials
  • No adaptation achieved or relevance maintained
learning as a value proposition
Learning as a Value Proposition
  • Learning is a currency in improving employees’ technical skills linked to organizational objectives (Chris Argyris)
  • Helping organizations achieve their performance expectations and objectives (Dave Ulrich)
  • Developing leaders and managers (Morgan McCall)
  • Developing systems approaches and action learning (Nancy Dixon)
  • Managing the white water of organizational change (Randy White)
  • Improving employees’ sense of worth and value (Gary Latham)
  • Learning how to learn (Kerry Bunker)
learning definitions
Learning Definitions
  • Organizational learning:
    • A system of actions, actor, symbols and processes that enables an organization to transform information into valued knowledge which in turn increases its long-run adaptive capacity
  • Training:
    • A formal procedure for acquiring the knowledge, values, skills or abilities that are required for successful performance in a job or occupation
  • Professional development:
    • The process by which one undertakes personal improvements to achieve career plans or goals
single loop and double loop learning
Single-Loop and Double-Loop Learning
  • Single-loop learning:
    • Adjustments made to maintain or to improve organizational performance against a set of values and norms that remain largely unchanged
    • Example: Addressing a values and ethics issue with an employee in order to correct behaviour, to reprimand if required, and to enhance effectiveness and performance
  • Double-loop learning:
    • Changes made to both correct performance and to validate underlying assumptions for further learning and adaptation
    • Example: Exploring the supervisory relationship of the employee, examining the orientation and basic training provided, looking for related trends, identifying what the organization has learned as a result
when do organizations fail to learn
When Do Organizations Fail to Learn?
  • Failure to acquire new knowledge
  • Failure to act, to experiment
  • Failure to share information
  • Failure to test and retest basic assumptions
  • Failure to capture knowledge and know-how from people exiting the OPS
  • Failure to adapt, to innovate, and to strive for excellence
managing risk in the ops
Managing Risk in the OPS
  • We need to help educate OPSers about what managing risk and serving in the public sector means
  • Organizational cultures need to value diverse thinking and experimentation
  • People need to be able to critically challenge the status quo
  • We need to be open to new ways of doing things
  • People need to see their senior leaders as role models
  • Systems and processes need to be put in place to encourage and reward good risk management
  • We need to be able to maximize our successes and minimize our failures while learning from our mistakes
today s key message again
Today’s Key Message: Again