Strategia co-founder and partner Sir Richard Shirreff chaired a panel discussion at Mines and Money on ‘the benefits of scenario modelling to develop collaborative partnerships in mining to mitigate risk in emerging markets’. Strategia Worldwide’s senior advisor Edward Haslam, Associate Directors Nigel Warmington and Cly Wallace plus Catherine Fieschi from partner company Counterpoint completed the panel, bringing together impressive expertise in mining, cultural and social risk, strategic communications and organizational integration. In a wide-ranging discussion four key points were made:
- First, risk mitigation – particularly in emerging markets – depends on avoiding thinking about risk in silos. Managing risk effectively means companies have to understand the relationship between risks and design a strategy to manage risk accordingly. If a project is to succeed and avoid delays and potential failure, companies need to think through the relationship between technical, environmental, social, political – and potentially other risks such as security – and ensure there is a comprehensive strategy in place from the start of any project which integrates the ways with the means to achieve the ends. Easy to say, but remarkable how many projects run into trouble as a result of a failure to think, plan and act strategically.
- Second, it’s all very well putting together a strategy to manage risk but unless it’s been developed in collaboration with other stakeholders – and they buy into it – it’s unlikely to survive first contact. The panel explored what this means both externally in the social, political and cultural space; and internally within a company by considering the implications for operational integration.
- Third, underpinning everything is the information domain, for information is a strategic instrument in its own right, with influence being the desired product. Winning the battle of the narratives means telling the compelling story, hence the importance of putting strategic communications at the heart of strategic planning and executing a sophisticated and well-planned influence operation to reassure stakeholders, deter potential risks and protect company reputation.
- Finally, the importance of scenario modelling in which the plan is war-gamed against a red team to determine the friction points or risks and where the crisis might strike. This means always asking the difficult ‘what if’ questions. Rigorous war-gaming or scenario testing will help company senior leadership identify where these friction points are so that the necessary contingency plans can be put in place, in order to prevent a worst case scenarios and to provide the means to control things when/if a crisis strikes. This is also a useful tool for companies seeking investment, as it can demonstrate that they have a strategy for managing risk.
Sir Richard Shirreff
Over 37 years experience as an international leader and commander rising to highest rank in British Army and NATO. Extensive experience of building unity of effort with different nations, governments, the humanitarian community and wide variety of other stakeholders in order to resolve complex problems. First hand understanding of the challenges of decision making under extreme political and media pressure, and proven record of leading dynamic change management makes him well placed to support corporate leaders in the development and operationalising of strategy to manage complex risks.
Deputy Chairman and Senior Independent Non-Executive Director at Centamin since 2011. In addition to his role as senior independent director, Edward Haslam undertakes certain additional governance functions.
Edward has been non executive Director (and Chairman from June 2007 to April 2012) of the LSE listed Talvivaara plc and since 1 May 2004 has been a non executive director of Aquarius Platinum Ltd. In 1981, Edward joined Lonmin, he was appointed a director in 1999 and Chief Executive Officer in November 2000 before retiring in April 2004. Edward is a Fellow of the Institute of Directors (UK).
Nigel is a Chartered Director and internationally accredited Executive Coach helping CEOs and Boards improve individual and team effectiveness especially during challenging change. He has multi-sector experience including delivering successful change in NATO, Defence organisations and the NHS to fulfil Ministerial direction and Government policy objectives. Nigel specialises in assignments where risks are high, budgets are tight, delivery schedules are finite and stakeholders disagree, leading high profile, large scale, national and international transformation programmes that deliver strategic change, turnaround, efficiency gains and performance improvement.
Cly is an international strategic communications professional with more than 20 years experience in the corporate and civil sectors and a focus on business sustainability and multi-sector partnerships. She spent ten years as a Public Affairs and Communications executive at The Coca-Cola Company, providing guidance and support on all aspects of business communications for markets throughout Europe, the Middle East, India and the Pacific. Cly also has a special interest in intercultural dialogue and authored a UN publication on Doing Business in a Multicultural World
Catherine is Counterpoint’s Founder and Executive Director. She advises business and political leaders around the world. A political scientist Catherine knows that rigorous social and cultural analysis can help leaders make better decisions, in both the public and private sectors.