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How mitigation can save you money, stress and socks

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My family sock budget used to be pretty astronomical. Before you jump to conclusions, know that we are not wearing fancy designer socks or belong to a sock-of-the-month club. We wear the type of socks that generally come in bags from Target.

Now, you need to know about Oscar. Oscar is a great dog (at least he is now that he is five) except for one thing I cannot break him of: he still confuses socks (clean or dirty) with chew toys. If you are saying to yourself “do what Cesar Milan recommends” been there, done that, failed. The sock budget was out of control and unless The Dog Whisperer himself was coming to the house of The Monster Whisperer, I had to solve it from a different angle.
When fixing problems the easiest and most obvious way doesn’t work, I tend to revert back to my emergency management background to look at the problem from a new perspective: how does the problem fit into a larger cycle of how risks impact communities (in this case my household). It seemed clear that the best way to reduce the risk of constantly replacing socks was to prevent the dog from accessing them in the first place. I employed two simple new tactics to outsmart the dog and prevent him from eating socks by the dozen:

  • Since many of the socks never made it to bedroom hampers, I bought a hamper that blends in for the family room area.
  • We all started closing bedroom doors if the rooms weren’t picked up. These actions were reinforced by constant, nagging (their word, not mine) reminders to other family members.

Soon, cutting off access to socks solved my problem.

This concept is called mitigation and it means all measures taken to reduce the damage, disruption and fallout from the hazard which in this case is Oscar. As you can see from the illustration below, sometimes, it can be more effective to prevent problems then constantly react to them.

MITIGATIONPREPAREDNESSRESPONSERECOVERY
Reduce access to socksTeach everyone 'drop' commandMake him drop the sockReplenish sock supply

Leaders and managers at both the organization and collaborative group levels are sometimes so busy putting out fires they forget that there are fires because there are buckets with matches and newspaper scattered throughout. When groups have been responding to challenges without success, it is time to see how mitigating the risk to prevent problems in the first place can help.

In case you were wondering, he got another sock this morning.

About Megan Wilmoth

Megan Wilmoth is the president of Planosaurus, a women-owned consulting firm that helps organizations eliminate the common threats to collaboration they affectionately call Organizational Monsters so that projects, programs, boards, committees, and teams can consistently achieve collaborative productivity. With twenty years of experience, she has provided a wide range of planning and management services to organizations ranging from Fortune 500, large and medium-sized companies, trade associations, non-profits, and government agencies. She is fueled by quality coffee and the opportunity to make the thankless job of managing collaborative managers easier.

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  • Megan Wilmoth,
  • November 10, 2014

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