Prevention is Better than Cure

By James Hopkinson, Director of Assaye Risk.

David Cameron’s visit to Tripoli last week brought offers of support. Interestingly, it was offers of training support for the police and military rather than offers of additional resources or direct intervention. This is as it should be and is something that the UK is good at and highly experienced in.

Here I am not just referring to UK’s recent interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan that brought a distinct training element with them but to a much older engagement with militaries and police forces the world over. The UK model of capacity building and training works well as it is neither rigid nor templated to set doctrine or equipments but seeks to work with the standards and aims of those to whom the training is being delivered.

It is an area where UK punches above its weight and is an area for the future as the UK draws down in Afghanistan but seeks to maintain its influence around the globe. Surprisingly, this was not an area that was given a great deal of prominence or attention in the UK Government’s Security and Strategic Defence Review published in 2010 despite its potential utility and effectiveness set against the recent record of direct intervention.

This focus on capacity building and training is not something that just applies to governments but has a wider utility and benefit for companies seeking to operate successfully in in emerging markets and complex environments. Building from within or as the US say ‘by, with, through’ the local community brings meaningful engagement and got right engenders a wider notion of security; one that should be at the heart of every project management plan.

A project that is well conceived and operationally grounded will have the involvement and buy-in of the community at its heart. It will provide meaningful social responsibility and skills for life whilst delivering critical employment to the local community and parts of the world such as Libya with a burgeoning youth population. The challenge is to think wider without jeopardising your project and investment.

Community engagement and capacity training should be considered at the outset of any project to realise its full potential, both in terms of cost effectiveness and impact. This is something that many companies struggle to achieve either because it involves investment, both capital and intellectual, up front or because they make decisions based wholly upon financials, treating the non-financial aspects as an afterthought. A more holistic corporate risk framework will pay dividends in line with the old adage that ’prevention is better than cure’.

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