Anyone who has been on a project team should be aware of what risk management is and why it is needed. If we understand the intent for managing project risks, then why does it seem that risk management is the least practiced knowledge area in project management?
Purpose of Risk Management
Decreasing the likelihood and impact of negative events or increasing the likelihood and impact of positive events is the purpose for risk management processes. But I find that many projects tend to focus on the negative characteristics of risk. Could this be a clue leading us to the reason or reasons that risk management processes seem to be nonessential?
Don’t Shoot the Messenger!
Going to leadership and owning up to risk events occurring on the project could be confused with negativity because of the focus on negative events. I have experienced, first hand, environments where the C-level executives would advise the project managers, that s/he only wanted to hear ‘good news’. And they would emphasize the GOOD NEWS part.
You get the drift. The flip side of the coin, bring bad news and be prepared. Shooting the messenger never solved the problem. In this organization, the culture of ‘only good news’ deterred project team members from bringing impending risks to the attention of leadership.
Differing Views of Risk Management
Risk management processes are perceived to be extra work, additional cost to the project, and inhibit creativity. Or that facilitating scheduled risk review meetings create a ‘negative vibe’ with those associated with the project because the focus is on reasons that the project might fail.
As project managers, we need to demonstrate that effective risk management is the best tool, and when used can increase the likelihood of project success. We need to provide the evidence that supports the claim. Walk the talk.
Risk Attitude Adjustment
One way to garner buy-in and support for risk management from project sponsors, C-level executives or leadership is to clarify the benefits of integrating risk planning, analysis and response efforts into the project plan. This will result in sufficient resources being assigned to deal with issues caused by risk events when, and if, they occur. The results should be fewer surprises, the team feels prepared, and the project should be delivered within agreed upon parameters.
The project should deliver the full ROI for which it was undertaken. This is the benefit derived from delivering the project on time, on budget, and to specifications. The proof that will show those who think that risk management only focuses on the ‘negative’ and is nothing more than a prediction of doom and gloom, can and does have a positive impact on project results.
Does the leadership in your organization need a risk attitude adjustment? Show them the benefits!!
© 2011 Gwen Miller All Rights Reserved.