Gary T. KlugiewiczKlugie's Corner
with Gary T. Klugiewicz

Applying risk management techniques to critical situations

If you have never seen a presentation by Gordon Graham, a retired California Highway Patrol captain, attorney, and risk manager, you need to. His presentations are an excellent combination of humor, experience, and straight-forward wisdom for keeping you physically, legally, and emotionally safe. In this legal tactical tip, we are going to examine his “Ethical Decision Making” concept.

Gordon Graham will tell you that in risk management most of your liability issues are both predictable and preventable.  This means that you should expect them, prepare for them, and many times be able to prevent or minimize them. What we need to prepare for are the emergency situations that are:

  1. High-risk
  2. Low frequency
  3. Non-discretionary

The incidents that you get involved in are often dangerous, high profile, and rapidly unfolding -- in other words, situations that have hit the fan. Here, Gordon Graham has developed a ten step process for ethical decision-making during these critical events:

  1. Evaluate what's happening
  2. Determine if you can handle it
  3. Do I have discretionary time?
  4. Check policy, if possible.
  5. What is past practice?
  6. What is the right thing to do.
  7. What are the consequences?
  8. Make a decision. 
  9. Documentation.
  10. Share information.

The bottom line is that if you use this template for making decisions at the point of impact, you will make better decisions. Although it is true that some events require immediate action with no time for slow, thought out decision-making, other situations do allow you time to think. If you have the time, take it --  and use it to go over this checklist. If you don't have time to think it out, having this foundation will assist you in making better decisions at the point of impact and be able to justify them after the fact.

For more information about Gordon Graham, check out his website at www.gordongraham.com.

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