In the first few days following the Brexit vote in the U.K., I heard many pundits refer to the decision to leave as a “black swan” event, but it was nothing of the sort. A black swan is a risk that is highly unlikely but has high impact if it does manifest itself. By the very fact that the referendum was happening, the potential that the UK would pull out of the EU was not a highly unlikely event. Still, it did catch people by surprise when the vote was to leave the EU, but for companies who were directly affected, prudent leadership would have begun planning for a potential leave vote ever since the referendum was announced.
However, the break-up is such a complicated endeavor, even prudent planners are struggling with the implications. Fortunately, time is on their side. Despite some impolitic calls in Europe for the UK to get out quickly, it is in no one’s interest for a messy divorce, and cooler heads are already starting to prevail.
So, with time on our side, what should GRC leaders do? First, it’s worth focusing on the “known knowns.” What do you know today about factors of Brexit that could impact your enterprise? Having inventoried those factors, then assess the risks to business objectives, and develop mitigations.
Next, identify the “known unknowns,” and begin the research and assessments to answer the questions and turn as many of those as possible into known knowns. Ensure you have risk monitoring in place for those known unknowns that remain.
Finally, there are the “unknown unknowns.” In the case of an undertaking as complex as Brexit, there are going to be many of these. Hence, ongoing monitoring of political, trade, immigration, and other Brexit related issues is required so that emerging issues can be quickly identified and assessed. A Brexit tiger team that can respond rapidly to developments could be useful.
Remember, in the case of Brexit, time is on your side when responding to the risks. Addressing the known issues now, monitoring known unknowns and as more information is available developing plans, and putting in place a team that can respond to unanticipated emerging Brexit risks will enable your organization to manage through this event.
Brexit developments will be a focus for GRC Summit in London 7-8 Nov, and we are putting together an agenda with panels and speakers who will address them. Don’t miss it! I look forward to seeing you there, and I’m sure by then, the implications of Brexit will have begun to gain greater clarity. Here is the link to register for the early bird price: http://www.grc-summit.com/europe/2016/