Dr. Jack Ogutu

A collaborative research partnership between Millersville University (MU), Oakland University, Michigan, and the Risk Innovation Group (RIG) resulted in findings about risk management that can help companies and organizations during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Jack Ogutu, associate professor and Occupational Safety & Environmental Health (OSEH) program coordinator at Millersville, was at the center of this collaboration, which began in 2015. The study was initiated by the president of RIG in consultation with Ogutu, to explore solutions to many long-standing risk practices that are either not working or are slow in producing positive employer outcomes.

The study’s findings were published in the May, 2019 edition of the professional safety journal of the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) titled “INTELLIGENT RISK MANAGEMENT: Seven Practical Steps to a Strong Risk Culture & Financial Maturity.”

Ogutu and his collaborators believe the research can help businesses and organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Research, he said, has made it clear that risk is broader than the traditional hazards leaders are accustomed to. Having a plan and effectively communicating it is critical in a pandemic situation, he said.

“The lessons learned are that processes need to be practical, actionable and impactful,” Ogutu said. “By putting structure to the process founded in foundational enterprise risk management principles, you can solve any problem an organization faces.”

Millersville students were involved in the study. They helped in the initial stages with data collection, which evolved into a one-day industry workshop titled “Results Through Design.” The event brought students and employers together to discuss new risk development processes.

In 2019, a class in the development process continued to engage students. An executive at a large/global employer came to a Millersville classroom to challenge students with the company’s top risk issues. Millersville students were challenged with finding and developing solutions and tasked to report back with their finding and recommendations.

“I would like to offer my appreciation to the Millersville OSEH students who have participated in some elements of this research collaboration over the last four years by presenting at conferences or assisted with survey development,” Ogutu said.

Ogutu conveyed, on behalf of his collaborators, the findings of the research, “The risk industry is very complex and, collectively, stakeholders move to the tactical prior to taking time to think strategically and operate with business savvy. Just as work crews do not simply show up on a jobsite to build a complex building, safety systems do not just happen.”

Ogutu and his collaborators proposed seven practical steps toward building a strong risk culture and financial maturity:

  • Step 1: Set Up a Platform to Operate Strategically.
  • Step 2: Determine Your Position on Human Behavior, Embrace Inclusion.
  • Step 3: Build an Inclusive Platform into Your Identity.
  • Step 4: Design Roles & Responsibilities to Fit an Inclusive Identity.
  • Step 5: Design Controls & Processes to Fit an Inclusive Identity.
  • Step 6: Develop & Track Risk Financial & Cultural Goals That Set Expectation for Incredible Outcomes.
  • Step 7: Brand the Identity so it is Known.

The work was picked up by others in the industry. In April 2018, a peer reviewed journal was published titled “Closing the Gap Between Traditional Risk Management & Enterprise Risk Management Systems.” Following the journal, a chapter was published in a textbook by the American Society of Safety Professions titled “Implementing a Risk Based Approach to Business: Best Practice Concepts for Enterprise Risk Management.”

“This work and the beta testing are showing very positive results that are impacting stakeholders,” Ogutu said.

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