Resources

Distraction & Decision Fatigue are Brain Drain for Risk Champions

“The actual information that reaches the brain via our senses is not the rich and detailed stream of sights, sounds and sensations that we so often take for granted; in truth, the raw data our senses provide is more like a muddy trickle, and our brain does some quite incredible work to polish it up … Continued

If I Only Had a Brain: Neuroscience and Risk Management

Cajoling colleagues into supporting risk management initiatives isn’t easy. Did you know that: the “laggy, lazy and distracted” brains of your staff and volunteers are hard-wired with roadblocks to risk-aware thinking and decision-making? various thinking patterns—including both intuitive shortcuts and analytical long-routes—send teams into dangerous territory, depending on the risk issue facing your team? NRMC … Continued

How Neuroscience and Risk Management Link to Fear and Memory

“To our brains, daily life is like tightrope-walking over a vast pit full of furious honey badgers and broken glass; one wrong move and you’ll end up as a gruesome mess in temporary but exquisite pain.” – Dean Burnett, Idiot Brain: What Your Head is Really Up To By Melanie Lockwood Herman To prep for … Continued

Dream Big: 10 Lessons Learned from Skydiving

By Christine Smith On Monday, I had the opportunity to jump out of a plane from 10,000 feet in the air at 120 miles per hour. Yes, that’s right, I went skydiving! If you’ve seen my bio on the NRMC website, you would know that it was an item on my bucket list. To say … Continued

Belt and Suspenders: Redundancy in Risk Practice

By Melanie Lockwood Herman “Daring and prudence, when used together, lead to new and safe structures.” – Why Buildings Fall Down I was reminded of several risk practice fundamentals this week while reading a fascinating book, Why Buildings Fall Down. The book chronicles structural failures, including the collapse of dams, bridges, stadiums, and buildings, and … Continued

Not So Great Governance? Resolve to Reinvent the Board

By Melanie Lockwood Herman In contrast with family members, friends and staff who are devoted to their favorite teams and specific sports, I have a less loyal and more general interest in sports. And while watching live or televised events, I’m easily distracted by subliminal messages about teamwork and leadership that play out on the … Continued

I Survived: Managing Family Vacation Risk

By Eric Henkel Last week I led my family of five on a classic rite of passage—a Spring Break trip to Florida to visit Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. I’m pleased to report that the trip went well, we made it home safe and sound, and I only allowed myself a few brief moments … Continued

No Worries: Mastering Productive Worry

By Melanie Lockwood Herman It’s been nearly 15 years since I first heard the expression “No Worries,” during a trip to Australia. I recall feeling a bit confused when my simple “thank you” was returned with an enthusiastic, “No worries!” But as my trip continued, I found myself appreciating the sentiment that seemed to accompany … Continued

Love My Way – Resources for Risk-taking

By Melanie Lockwood Herman “You can never win or lose. If you don’t run the race.” – Love My Way by The Psychedelic Furs Driving my home on Valentine’s Day my radio was tuned to 1st Wave on Sirius/XM and a special program featuring love songs from the 1980s. First up was one of my … Continued

New Risk Benchmarking App & Infographic: 5 Riveting Reads for Risk Champions

  The Nonprofit Risk Management Center team is pleased to share our new, free resource: the Risk Benchmarking App. This web application allows nonprofit leaders to compare their organizations’s risk practices to those of peer organizations. The Risk Benchmarking App uses five commonly asked questions to compare nonprofit risk management practices. We plan to add … Continued

Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut, Trust Your Gut

By Melanie Lockwood Herman “You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” – Alan Alda In last week’s Risk eNews (“Embrace Your Leaky Brain to Conquer the Unknown“) I shared a lesson from the book … Continued

Embrace Your Leaky Brain to Conquer the Unknown

By Melanie Lockwood Herman This week I was dismayed to learn about the damaging effects and destructive force of a leaky faucet. For the past two weeks I have noticed–but repeatedly ignored–a strangely stiff faucet handle and minor leak in one of my sinks at home. Now it’s time to pay the piper, or in … Continued

Reversing Decisions: Risk Lessons from the Peanut Gallery

By Eric Henkel Changing your mind and reversing a previous decision generally seems like something to avoid. However, it may be the best thing to do when new information makes it prudent to do so. A recent New York Times article about peanut allergies discusses new guidelines issued by the National Institute of Allergy and … Continued

Glossary of Risk Management and Insurance Terms

This glossary was originally published in Coverage, Claims and Consequences: An Insurance Handbook for Nonprofits. Accident — Unexpected or chance event. This term is frequently defined in older commercial general liability (CGL) policies. Accident medical reimbursement insurance — Covers medical expenses for injuries arising out of accidents, regardless of liability. Traditionally also provides a schedule … Continued

Proper Planning Prevents Poor Meeting Performance

By Eric Henkel Many of the employees we meet in Center-led Risk Assessments yearn for a more generous communications loop in their organizations. Our team has also observed the growing interdependency of work tasks and the need for thoughtful collaboration and communication. Email and instant messaging may feel like time-saving communications tools, but they are … Continued

How to Go Around or Over the Bumps in the Road

By Erin Gloeckner This holiday season has been a hectic one for me. The eve of Thanksgiving Day, I drove a few hours to visit family in West Virginia, and I hit a buck on the highway going 70 MPH. Miraculously my boyfriend Alex, my dog Hugo and I were not hurt, but the hood … Continued

Internal Crisis Communications: The Inside Track

By Melanie Lockwood Herman When a crisis threatens a nonprofit mission, top leaders instinctively focus on what to say to the rapidly encroaching outside world. A community-serving nonprofit may attract attention from far and wide when a disaster, scandal or tragedy strikes. Yet one of the most important steps to surviving and thriving while in … Continued

Lessons on Learning

By Melanie Lockwood Herman This month I’ve been reading Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing, by Jamie Holmes. One of the memorable reminders in the book is about the importance of learning, something my team has been focused on recently as we prepare to unveil our 2017 line-up of risk-learning and leadership opportunities for nonprofit … Continued

Say What? How Unconscious Bias Affects Our Perceptions

By Eric Henkel You probably regularly encounter situations where you are convinced that you know exactly what is going on, only to find out that things are the exact opposite of what you thought. When it comes to how we view our environment and the people we interact with, there is often a disconnect between … Continued

A Spoonful of Skepticism Helps the Medicine Go Down

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Have you ever attended a board meeting where one of the members seemed to have everything figured out? Or have you ever worked (or lived with!) a ‘know-it-all?” One of my favorite expressions relevant to the world of nonprofit governance is, “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” … Continued

You’ve Got a Friend in Me

By Melanie Lockwood Herman “When the road looks rough ahead, and you’re miles and miles from your nice warm bed… you just remember what your old pal said, ‘Boy, you’ve got a friend in me.'” – You’ve Got a Friend In Me, by Randy Newman (from the movie Toy Story) In her article titled, “Do … Continued

5 Questions to Re-Focus Your Risk Function

By Melanie Lockwood Herman A colleague recently sent me a copy of “The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization,” a book organized around a short list of simple but provocative and powerful questions. In a series of essays authored by familiar management luminaries, the book offers a straightforward way to … Continued

Risk Oversight

This webinar explores the topic of risk oversight and the board. Learn what the term risk oversight” means, and how risk oversight intersects with the board’s legal and fiduciary responsibilities. Join us as we take a close-up look at several risk oversight frameworks, and explore how to custom fit a risk oversight capability to your … Continued

Risk Aware Boards

This webinar explores the topic of governance risk. What risks arise from the work of board? How does the responsibility of a nonprofit board differ from that of a for-profit board? What steps are recommended to engage the board without frightening members and encouraging risk-averse positions or policies? By the end of this webinar you’ll … Continued

Risk Champions: What’s in a Name?

The risk champion in a nonprofit may be called Risk Manager, CFO, Chief Risk Officer, Director of Special Projects or even CEO. Despite the varying titles, the clear trend in the nonprofit sector is to designate a point person to champion the design and implementation of best-in-class risk management. This webinar explores the role of … Continued

Insurance Coverage Q&A

Many nonprofit leaders report difficulty understanding the terms of the insurance coverage on which their nonprofit organizations depend. This webinar offers the chance to pose any coverage-related question and receive an answer in plain language. The program will begin with a survey of common questions about the process of obtaining coverage and an overview of … Continued

Managing Special Event Risks

Special events are multifaceted opportunities for surprise. When your nonprofit is planning a special event is the time to consider what can go wrong and what harm can come to your critical assets – the people, income, reputation and goodwill of the organization. Is your nonprofit ready to deal with: unexpected large crowds, guests that … Continued

Insurance Basics for Nonprofits

The world of commercial insurance is complex and always changing. It’s no wonder that nonprofit managers, executives and board members often struggle trying to understand how coverage works and the process for obtaining comprehensive and affordable coverage. For longer than a decade, the staff at the Nonprofit Risk Management Center has been training nonprofit leaders … Continued

Ready, Mindset, Go!

April 6, 2016 By Melanie Lockwood Herman During two Risk Assessments / ERM engagements for complex nonprofit organizations, our team has shared the idea of a ‘risk aware mindset’ with our clients. What are we referring to? In general, we’re talking about a leadership team that is: Eager to learn, and learn some more Comfortable … Continued

Banish Overconfidence to Unleash Originality

April 20, 2016 By Melanie Lockwood Herman I recently purchased tickets to attend one of the stops on Garrison Keillor’s farewell Prairie Home Companion tour. Although I’ve heard it countless times during his weekly radio broadcast and it’s a bit corny, I’m looking forward to hearing–for the last time–the closing line from the Lake Wobegon … Continued

Foster Dissent, Quiet Consensus

April 27, 2016 By Melanie Lockwood Herman I’ve been a fan of dissent–over comfortable consensus–for some time. While finishing Adam Grant’s book, Originals, I discovered some new insights into why and how consensus and groupthink pair up to kill innovation. Grant describes how Polaroid made strides in electronic imaging in the early 1980s, and finished … Continued

Level the Playing Field Through Inclusive Meetings

May 4, 2016 By Emily Stumhofer It’s all about perspective. Diverse perspectives can contribute to a more complete and whole view of an organization and its challenges and strengths. Most of us understand the value of obtaining diverse perspectives, and including a variety of people and stakeholders in discussions and meetings, but are we doing … Continued

Employee Engagement: Why Good Isn’t Good Enough

May 12, 2016 By Melanie Lockwood Herman “Respectful treatment of all employees at all levels,” tops the list of factors contributing to over all job satisfaction, according to the 2016 SHRM Employment Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey. Also positive, SHRM–the Society for Human Resource Management–reports that U.S. employees are “more satisfied with their current jobs … Continued

Risk Management’s Unintended Consequences

Have you ever done a good deed just to realize later that it resulted in some unintended, negative consequence? Perhaps this realization came after implementing new risk management practices at your nonprofit. After reading a CEB report titled 'Reducing Risk Management's Organizational Drag,' I agreed with the authors' perspective that risk management can sometimes result … Continued

Join the Culture Club

December 23, 2015 By Melanie Lockwood Herman Assuming you love your job, what is it about your nonprofit that makes it a wonderful place to work? Despite the undeniable uniqueness of nonprofits, most organizations have the following elements in common: a compelling mission, a defined leadership structure, multiple stakeholder groups and vulnerability to financial stress … Continued

Clear the Decks

December 31, 2015 By Melanie Lockwood Herman According to www.english-for-students.com, the expression “clear the decks” refers to the preparations made by the crew of a sailing ship, such as removing or fastening down loose objects on deck “that might otherwise get in the way of the guns, or be knocked down and injure a sailor.” … Continued

Sensible Risk Resolutions for 2016

January 6, 2016 By Melanie Lockwood Herman Each year, many Americans adopt unrealistic New Year’s resolutions. My first resolution for 2016 was to stop booking business trips that require late evening departures or landings. I was a bit surprised to learn that, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, 75% of people who make a … Continued

Closing Time: Effective Exit Interviews

By Melanie Lockwood Herman “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end…” – Closing Time, Semisonic Upon learning that an employee or volunteer will be leaving your nonprofit, you might schedule a time for the departing team member to turn in their keys, return equipment, and receive a briefing on post employment benefits. Departing … Continued

Managing Mission Creep

February 24, 2016 By Erin Gloeckner The perennial debate: be good at everything or be great at one thing? I’ve witnessed this struggle at diverse nonprofits during many of the Center’s consulting engagements. The door of opportunity opens and most nonprofit leaders eagerly walk through. We take on additional programs or lines of service based … Continued

Clean-spiration

March 9, 2016 By Melanie Lockwood Herman Since last week’s snowfall, the weather in our area has steadily improved. We’ve already had a few picture-perfect days, although spring is still more than a week away. For many people, the arrival of spring means melting away your worries about slipping on black ice, and the end … Continued

HELP! I Need Somebody’s Risk Help

March 16, 2016 If you’ve ever heard the catchy Beatles tune, Help!, it might have caused you to reflect on times you’ve sought help in your personal or professional life. Here at the Center, we offer RISK HELP and risk management guidance to our valued Affiliate Members and consulting clients. In today’s RISK eNews, the … Continued

Art Appreciation in a World of Risk

March 23, 2016 Art Appreciation in a World of Risk By Melanie Lockwood Herman Last week I took advantage of an opportunity to combine two of my favorite pastimes: reading and relaxation. While on a short vacation, I read 33 Artists in 3 Acts, by art world chronicler Sarah Thornton. In her never dull book, … Continued

Why We Shouldn’t Just Get Along

July 22, 2015 By Melanie Lockwood Herman During an interview for a recent Risk Assessment, a staff member at a client nonprofit asked, “Why can’t we just get along?” She continued by describing the actions of senior leaders in her organization, whose behavior toward one another negatively affected employees at all levels of the organization. … Continued

Lost in Emotion: Managing Workplace Stress and Conflict

July 15, 2015 By Emily Wilson I’ll be the first one to admit it–I’m one of those people who cry at the drop of a hat. Not to mention sad movies and humane society PSAs. According to the research on crying, some people are simply more prone to crying than others. So I was not … Continued

Mindful Leadership

July 29, 2015 By Melanie Lockwood Herman During a recent consulting engagement, a member of my team reminded our client that when an organization adopts a large number of ambitious, complex goals, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Instead of feeling “doable,” success may feel out of reach. The key to tackling big goals, she explained, … Continued

A Little Respect

August 5, 2015 By Melanie Lockwood Herman As anyone who’s ridden in my car, visited my home, or asked me about my taste in music knows, I’m a huge fan of Channel 33 on SiriusXM. My “First Wave” station plays music from the 1980s–from upbeat dance tunes to the bizarre poetic musings of Morrissey. One … Continued

Rebellion: How to Change Your Approach to Learning

August 12, 2015 By Melanie Lockwood Herman “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin The desire to learn on the job is shared by employees from all generations, backgrounds and tenures. Yet promises made to new hires about “learning opportunities” are infrequently supported … Continued

As Luck Will Have It

August 19, 2015 By Melanie Lockwood Herman Dan Ariely’s book, Irrationally Yours, is a collection of his “Ask Ariely” columns featured in The Wall Street Journal. I purchased this book at an airport bookstore after learning that a short flight delay was going to stretch into several hours. As luck would have it, this particular … Continued

Stuck in the Middle

August 26, 2015 By Melanie Lockwood Herman Certain melodies and lyrics get stuck in my head. In 1972, the single “Stuck in the Middle with You,” by Stealers Wheel, took up permanent residence in my brain. Peaking at #6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, the song was apparently inspired by a business lunch, … Continued

The Nonprofit Sector’s Dirty Secret

September 2, 2015 By Melanie Lockwood Herman Friday, September 4th is the deadline to submit written comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding changes to the regulations defining which white-collar workers are protected by the minimum wage and overtime standards in the Fair Labor Standards Act. As of this writing, more than 145,000 … Continued

Why Sorry is the Hardest Word

September 9, 2015 By Melanie Lockwood Herman This weekend I had an opportunity to watch a program titled “Cardinal Seán” featured in a re-run of the television program, 60 Minutes. The subject of the program was Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston. One of the most compelling moments in the broadcast was a video clip … Continued

Thank you!

September 16, 2015 by Melanie Lockwood Herman The principal purpose of this week’s RISK eNews is to say “thank you” to the generous sponsors of the 2015 Risk Summit. Without financial support from these corporate risk champions, the conference simply wouldn’t be possible. As past attendees know, our Risk Summits deliver practical workshops, inspiring keynotes, … Continued

So Good

September 30, 2015 by Melanie Lockwood Herman Throughout my life I’ve shied away from buying items of clothing that prominently advertise a corporate brand. As a child I recall my father saying that if he were ever to purchase a shirt featuring a certain reptile emblem, he would immediately cut it off before wearing it. … Continued

Battling Burnout

October 7, 2015 By Erin Gloeckner “We are short-staffed.” “We don’t have enough funds.” “We can’t afford to pay our employees more.” If the nonprofit sector had walls, and those walls could talk, they would certainly chant these commonly cited concerns of nonprofit leaders. Doing good is tough work, and consensus shows that many do-gooders … Continued

The Optimism Bias

October 16, 2015 By Erin Gloeckner Are you a Tigger (i.e., an unfailingly cheerful and bouncy tiger)? Or are you an Eeyore (i.e., a pronouncedly pessimistic and gloomy donkey)? Whether or not you fit neatly into one of those categories, you’ve likely met people who do. My own partner is a die-hard Tigger who always … Continued

The Frankenstein Effect

October 21, 2015 By Erin Gloeckner With Halloween swiftly approaching, I’ve been humming ‘Monster Mash’ and craving anything pumpkin-flavored. A few nights ago I went shopping for dog food, but found myself drawn to the cheap-but-adorable doggie Halloween costumes. I came home with a bag of food and a hilarious Frankenstein costume for my dog, … Continued

Beyond Belief: How Cognitive Biases Shape Our World

By Emily Stumhofer Scientists and psychological researchers are constantly trying to figure out why people do the things they do. The notion of cognitive bias was first introduced in 1972 by Daniel Kahneman and his colleague Amos Tversky. In 2002, Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize in Economics for his research on how human judgments … Continued

Grip Strong and Prosper

May 20, 2015 By Melanie Lockwood Herman The subject of aging has been haunting me lately. I’m starting to hear a bit of a creak as I climb the stairs in our two-story office, and I’ve been trying not to count the days until one of “those” birthdays turns red on my calendar. Along with … Continued

Embrace Radical Thinking to Wrestle Risk

June 3, 2015 By Melanie Lockwood Herman During a staff meeting this week I was reminded of the difficulty of seeing beyond the barrier of past experience. When a member of our team suggested a radical approach to addressing a challenge on our horizon, I immediately offered an example of a prior failed attempt at … Continued

Coffee, Confusion and Continuous Improvement

By Melanie Lockwood Herman The book Born Standing Up, by Steve Martin, is a close-up look at the career of a performer who seemed to skyrocket to success as a standup comedian and then movie-star. As readers of Martin’s book quickly realize, his fast-track to success was only an illusion. Martin began honing his craft at … Continued

Meet, Greet, Grin and Adjust

By Melanie Lockwood Herman After a whirlwind month during which we hosted three, back-to-back risk conferences, life at the Nonprofit Risk Management Center has returned to “normal.” What’s normal? Working with dedicated leaders from a diverse array of mission-directed public entities and nonprofits on projects ranging from the development of a cloud application for one … Continued

Off With A Bang: Risk Resolutions

A new year brings the opportunity to start fresh in many areas of life. For many people, this means big plans and aspirations, and often, resolutions. For some suggested risk resolutions from the Nonprofit Risk Management Center, check out our infographic. According to historical accounts, the earliest recorded New Year’s celebration took place around 4,000 … Continued

How to be the World’s Smartest Risk Manager

By Melanie Lockwood Herman I’ve just finished the National Geographic book, “How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler.” Who doesn’t want to be the world’s “smartest” anything?! As a big fan of the expression, “don’t believe everything you read,” I had no expectation of becoming the world’s smartest traveler when I cracked the cover of … Continued