Harvard ManageMentor — MANAGING CRISES TOOLS

The 10 Worst Things That Could Happen List

Some managers find it helpful to create and have available a list of the ten worst things that could happen at
work and what they would do about them. Use this tool to record your own list or have a team or work group
develop their list.

Situation What I/We Would Do About It










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Risk Assessment

The 10 Worst Things That Could Happen List

What are your focus organization’s ticking time bombs?


This is an awareness exercise. Keeping eyes wide open for potential crises is a
prerequisite to resilience. The first step is to identify things that could lead to trouble in the future.

Assignment Description

For this assignment, you will paint a rough picture of the risk landscape of your focus organization, that is, the most significant emergencies or disasters that it faces. You must prepare and submit a completed “The 10 Worst Things That Could Happen” List
 In your list you must describe, in as much detail as possible, your key risks and what you might do about each of them
 Some will represent more costly risks that others. Some will have a higher probability of occurring. Don’t be concerned about the magnitude and probability of
different risks just yet. For the moment, just compile this list of the things that could
lead to big trouble
 A template worksheet is attached along with a list of common risks that you could

Final Thoughts

When people begin thinking about potential crises that might impact their companies,
they think primarily about crises that have already experience-or ones they’ve heard
about in the news
 Thinking beyond the boundaries of personal experience is more difficult. But that is
where the real dangers lie
 A novel technique for getting beyond that boundary is called “Adopt the Mind of an
Assassin”. That is, to imagine yourself as a criminal, somebody that wants bring
harm to your focus organization. Imagine that you are suspending your moral code and using your intimate knowledge of your focus organizations facilities, people and systems to destroy it, either from the inside or the outside

Analysis from these five aspects

Probability: Likelihood this hazard will occur
Human Impact: Possibility of death or injury
Property Impact: Physical loss or damage
Business Impact: Disruption to critical services
Risk: Relative threat

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