The Risk Arc: A Pathway to Business Recovery

April 14, 2020 Paul Johns

This is a challenging time for leaders. We’re faced with a global pandemic on a scale rarely seen before, with far-reaching impact on our modern digital economy.

We don’t know how to accurately model this COVID-19 health crisis and we don’t know how and when the world will spring back from it. The Risk Arc serves as a blueprint in a world where there are so many unknowns.

Companies that lay out a robust path forward will transform the culture of their business from a state of anxious paralysis to one that allows for informed and engaged employees to help propel the business forward. It’s the rigor of the Risk Arc and the strategy of the journey that gives leaders the space to be human and companies the time to implement changes that will make them truly more resilient.


We’ve all gone through what has felt like a relentless few weeks of operationalizing our rapid response to the emerging coronavirus health crisis and the resulting economic downturn. Now we should be focused on pivoting our businesses for the future. What the Risk Arc attempts to do is to begin to set up this journey.

It’s critically important to acknowledge the steps already taken to determine the future steps necessary to re-engage the vendor community, reset office space so that employees can return, and rebuild the supply chain and support networks around our businesses. We may not have all the right answers as business leaders, but we can start to lay out the steps to give customers and employees a sense that someone is in control.

Companies have had to think carefully in recent weeks about managing costs, mobilizing their workforce and closing physical locations amid expanded social distancing policies. This created initial challenges with business continuity and data privacy as we quickly pivoted to broad work-from-home initiatives. It's just a few months into this pandemic and we’re still in the beginning stages of this journey. At some point, we will all need to plan our recovery in a post-COVID-19 world and that’s where the Risk Arc is really beneficial.

To survive the next several months, leadership teams should lay out a path that is operational, technically supported and that is communicated throughout their businesses.

  • Now is the time to begin thinking about how changes in the regulatory landscape will affect your internal process and policies.
  • Now is the time to wrap our heads around how the pandemic has changed technology and the likelihood of new technologies being developed more rapidly.
  • Now is also the time to evaluate our current business strategies and whether they’re relevant in this environment and the new normal that is yet to come. 

It’s how we adapt and react that matters as adaptability will become the new competitive advantage. It’s not what we do today that will determine whether our organizations are resilient, but instead how quickly what we do is relevant and how quickly we bring our employees with us on that journey.

Adopting the approach laid out in the Risk Arc requires communication with important stakeholders, both internal and external. As in any crisis, companies need to be transparent and maintain trust by explaining the steps they’re taking and the reason for those decisions. One of the benefits of the arc is that you can demonstrate a thoughtful and methodical path forward that shows you’re out in front of the problem and that you have a plan.

The message from leaders shouldn’t be blind optimism – but neither should it be one that is stuck in the darkness of the moment. Recognize and acknowledge the importance of this moment and be honest about the real impact it will likely have.

How you communicate this future journey, how you support your customers, how you treat your employees and how you adapt in this environment are all going to determine your success at recovering in the months to come.

There is a silver lining here. The pandemic is forcing companies to finally implement the kind of digital transformation necessary to see us through and into the next age of business. This pandemic has forced companies to accelerate digital-first and cloud-based initiatives that have stalled for much of the last decade and are now, instead, amplified with distributed and remote workforces. We’re all forced to think differently, to be more agile, and in some cases, innovate in the moment.

At SAI Global, we’ve spent the last few months shepherding companies through their pandemic response with business continuity plans and risk assessments. The work we’ve done for our clients, we’ve also done for ourselves. This is what has led us to develop the Risk Arc, to put the issues most critical at this moment in context as we begin to think about how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed us now and will continue to shape our future.

I would love to hear from you. Does this align with what you’ve experienced in your own businesses? What issues are informing your recovery plans? 



 Watch Paul Johns discuss SAI Global's Risk Arc in more detail. 

Our EHS leader David Smith put the Risk Arc into context of current recovery stages as summer began: The COVID-19 Risk Arc: A Map to Navigate to the New Normal


Visit our pandemic information center, which includes reading materials, podcasts, shareable videos, and best-practice guidance around managing business continuity, compliance, workforce health and safety, and risk management amid the coronavirus pandemic.

About the Author

Paul Johns

Paul Johns is an established risk and compliance thought-leader and has held CMO positions in a variety of technology companies with a primary focus in FinTech. He has a wealth of experience across the full marketing, communications and investor relations spectrum. Paul was the CMO at SAI360, formerly SAI Global.

Follow on Linkedin More Content by Paul Johns
Previous Article
The Great Global Supply Chain Reckoning
The Great Global Supply Chain Reckoning

Two months ago, James Green wrote about how the coronavirus was set to cripple the global supply chain. Her...

Next Article
COVID-19 and the Impact on Compliance Operations in Hospitals
COVID-19 and the Impact on Compliance Operations in Hospitals

The effort to support hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for healthcare complian...