Who knew that GRC could be explained using three brilliant, but competing, musicians…and Jimmy Carter?

I included a metaphor to explain my thinking on the relationship between governance and risk management in comments on this post. People seem to have enjoyed that, so I thought I would use a metaphor to explain my (and OCEG’s) view of GRC.

As a reminder, you can listen to a webinar on my view of GRC. The link is here, where I also have links to other posts on the topic.

Discordant Violin Section, Discordant Risk Management Program

You are listening to a recording by the late Yehudi Menuhin. He plays that violin like the maestro he was.


(Source: http://bit.ly/jutwDs)

Then a competing but equally wonderful sound fills the air. Stephane Grappelli, the brilliant jazz violinist, is playing just as loud in the next room.


(Source: http://elderly.com/books/items/02-21539BCD.htm)

But, they are not playing together. They have different styles and seem ignorant of each other. One is playing classical, the other jazz.

Another series of notes compete for your ears. You look around and see another violinist, but not one in the same class.

Now, I don’t know who would call Jimmy Carter a fine musician. He is playing his own music, by himself and certainly not from the same song sheet as the two great artists.


(Source: http://hubpages.com/hub/Violin-For-Beginners-7Tips)

What does this represent? Instead of three violinists, imagine three groups of individuals performing risk management: in Treasury, IT and Procurement. The violin section (a.k.a. risk management program) is highly fragmented and -- to say the least -- discordant.

Why don’t we get the three to play as a trio, using the same style and playing from the same sheet music? Let’s eliminate the fragmentation.

The Trouble with Playing (Working) in Silos


From another room, you hear a trumpet.


(Source: http://www.covershut.com/cover-tags/Wynton-Marsalis-Christmas-Jazz-Jam.html)

It’s another great -- Wynton Marsalis. He can play both classical and jazz, but whatever he is playing is not in sync with the newly created violin section. He is not listening to them, just creating his own wonderful music. In fact, it seems his loud instrument is competing with the violins for our attention, but all we are getting is blurred vision and a headache.

Why can’t they get together and play in harmony?

What does this represent? The violins and trumpet are playing in silos. They are not just ignoring each other; they are competing with each other and making each other’s sound harder to hear -- and less effective.

The Solution: Orchestration

The solution is embodied in the new word from OCEG: “orchestration.” I have been using the word “harmony,” thinking that it would be fine if we could get the alto, soprano and bass to sing together in harmony. Scott Mitchell of OCEG suggested that the works should be orchestrated, implying greater optimization of the combined performance.

So if we can get our silos eliminated and the violins, trumpets, drums, etc. to cooperate and coordinate (i.e., embrace GRC), we get a fine orchestra.


(Source: http://performingarts.georgetown.edu/music/Ensembles/)

By the way, Menuhin and Grappelli did play together. You can see them on YouTube, or just listen to a fabulous recording of Gershwin’s Summertime.

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