What are the risks of not closing actions?

Failing to close actions associated with risks can have significant consequences, especially in the realms of safety and governance. Here are the key risks involved in not addressing or closing these actions, organised into several categories for clarity:

1. Leadership Commitment

  • Authenticity and Credibility

Leaders who allow actions that have been raised to go unattended are at risk of being ignored, or worse, removed from positions of authority. Actions, whilst not always classified as controls, are often the supporting evidence of a culture of accountability and commitment to documented process.

A failure to close out actions can be used as an example of poor commitment or evidence that responsibility may be absent.

2. Operational Risks

  • Business Continuity

Unresolved risks can lead to operational disruptions. For instance, if a risk related to outdated software isn’t addressed, it might lead to system crashes, resulting in downtime and productivity losses. This is particularly critical for businesses that rely on continuous operations, like financial institutions or healthcare providers.

  • Quality and Performance

Operational processes often have quality benchmarks. Ignoring risks can result in processes not meeting these benchmarks, leading to inferior product or service quality. This affects customer satisfaction and can lead to increased returns or complaints, ultimately impacting the company’s reputation and bottom line.

3. Financial Risks

  • Direct Financial Losses

Every unresolved risk has a potential financial impact. For instance, not mitigating a known cybersecurity risk could result in a data breach, leading to hefty fines, legal costs, and loss of revenue. Similarly, not addressing a risk related to a supply chain can cause delays, increased costs, and loss of business.

  • Increased Costs Over Time

Delaying the resolution of risks often results in increased costs. A minor issue, if not addressed timely, can escalate into a major problem, requiring significantly more resources and money to resolve. For example, ignoring small maintenance issues in machinery can lead to major breakdowns requiring expensive repairs or replacements.

4. Strategic Risks

  • Competitive Disadvantage

Failure to address strategic risks can leave a company vulnerable to competitive pressures. For instance, not adapting to new market trends or technologies due to unresolved strategic risks can cause a company to fall behind its competitors, losing market share and growth opportunities.

  • Loss of Market Confidence

Investors and stakeholders closely watch how companies manage their risks. Failure to effectively close risk-related actions can lead to a loss of confidence, impacting stock prices and the company’s ability to attract investment. This can also affect partnerships and collaborative ventures, as partners may perceive the company as unreliable or high-risk.

5. Reputational Risks

  • Brand Damage

Public perception is crucial. Unresolved risks, especially those that become public, can damage a company’s brand. For instance, if a company fails to address environmental risks and causes pollution, it may face public backlash and loss of customer trust, which can be hard to rebuild.

  • Legal and Compliance Issues

Not closing compliance-related risks can lead to legal troubles. Regulatory bodies have stringent requirements, and non-compliance can result in fines, sanctions, or even shutdowns. For example, not addressing workplace safety risks can lead to accidents, resulting in legal actions and regulatory fines.

6. Safety and Security Risks

  • Employee Safety

Unresolved risks in the workplace can compromise employee safety, leading to accidents and injuries. This not only affects the well-being of employees but also impacts morale and productivity. Companies may also face legal liabilities and increased insurance premiums as a result.

  • Data Security

In today’s digital age, data breaches are a significant risk. Not closing actions related to cybersecurity risks can lead to data breaches, resulting in the loss of sensitive information, customer trust, and substantial financial losses due to remediation efforts and legal fines.

7. Legal and Regulatory Risks

  • Regulatory Penalties

Non-compliance with legal and regulatory requirements can result in significant penalties. Regulatory bodies are increasingly vigilant, and companies that fail to mitigate identified risks might face fines, sanctions, or operational restrictions.

  • Litigation Risks

Unresolved risks can lead to litigation. Customers, employees, or other stakeholders might sue the company if they suffer due to the company’s negligence in addressing risks. This can lead to prolonged legal battles, significant financial settlements, and damage to the company’s reputation.

8. Environmental Risks

  • Environmental Damage

Ignoring environmental risks can result in significant harm to the environment. This can lead to legal actions, fines, and damage to the company’s reputation as a socially responsible entity. Companies might also face operational restrictions from environmental regulators.

  • Sustainability Issues

Companies today are expected to operate sustainably. Not addressing environmental risks can hinder sustainability initiatives, impacting the company’s ability to meet regulatory requirements and customer expectations for environmental stewardship.

9. Organisational Culture Risks

  • Decreased Employee Morale

If employees see that management is not taking risk mitigation seriously, it can lead to decreased morale and engagement. Employees may feel unsafe, undervalued, or unsupported, leading to higher turnover rates and reduced productivity.

  • Poor Decision-Making Culture

A culture that neglects closing risk-related actions fosters poor decision-making. It sends a message that risks are not important, which can permeate throughout the organisation, leading to a lack of accountability and a reactive rather than proactive approach to problem-solving.


In conclusion, failing to close actions associated with risks can lead to a cascade of negative consequences across operational, financial, strategic, reputational, safety, legal, environmental, and cultural dimensions. Effective risk management is integral to maintaining operational continuity, financial stability, competitive advantage, legal compliance, and a positive reputation. 

Therefore, organisations must prioritise identifying, assessing, and closing risk-related actions to safeguard their long-term success and sustainability. By doing so, they not only protect themselves from potential pitfalls but also build resilience and trust among their stakeholders, ensuring a robust and thriving business environment.

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