How Do You Manage Risks?

I live in the Boston area. We’ve had several storms in the last couple of weeks. We have more than 70 inches of snow on the ground at my house–and throughout the Boston area. We have more snow than we know what to do with.

We’ve had travel bans and snow emergencies. And still, the plows can’t keep up with the snow. There’s no place to put it.

Our snowbanks are crazy-high–maybe 12-14 feet tall. The streets are narrow. My street used to be wide enough for two cars. Now, it’s down to one lane. Maybe if the plows come by again, it will be one and a half lanes wide.

We have snow-removal-debt. The snow fell so fast, the plows could not keep up. Because they didn’t clear the street all the way between the curbs, the streets get narrower. The more snow we have, the narrower the streets become because the plows can’t clear all the way to the snowbanks. Our town is having trouble maintaining garbage pickup days. And, when we have garbage pickup, we have to be careful where we put the bins and trash. It needs to be off the street, but where??

We have many risks now:

  • Roofs collapsing because of the weight of the snow
  • Slow traffic because the streets are clogged
  • Because the sidewalks are quite narrow, people walk on the streets. This is high accident potential. Even if you see the pedestrian, you might not be able to stop in time.

We are living in a risky situation.

As adaptable problem solvers, we need to manage risks all the time. I like asking “What’s the Worst Thing That Can Happen?” That’s a nice start.

After you ask, you need to act.

Mark got a snow rake. Aside from the driveway and front walk, he’s been raking snow off the roof. Today, we had people with large snowblowers move snow away from the house, so we don’t get leakage when the snow finally melts.

We don’t let the refrigerator get quite as empty as we normally do. We’re not over-buying; we are buying enough food that we could eat comfortably for a few days if the grocery stores stop having deliveries.

That’s this month, certainly a month that isn’t normal.

What do you do to manage risks all the time?

  • You can always ask the Worst Thing question.
  • You assess your current reality. When you see what’s happening, you can plan better.
  • You can plan to replan, so you use the data you have now to make better decisions.

Imagining risks is just the start. If you don’t act based on what you imagine, you lose possibilities. You may not be able to solve problems.

Dear adaptable problem solvers, this is your question of the week: How do you manage risks?

I’m looking forward to spring.

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