Preston Smith's Corner

What else can we do to facilitate talking about risk?

June 2003 Quick Tip

In the last Quick Tip, we discussed how difficult it is for many people to discuss a subjective, rather negative subject like risk. If you are going to be successful in managing project risk in your organization, you must find a way to “bring risk out of the closet.” Fortunately, there is an excellent way to do this.

The solution is to paint a picture of each risk. Unlike an abstract Picasso, the picture is in a standardized format that is familiar to everyone in the organization. We call our version of the picture a risk model, but this term perhaps scares some individuals needlessly.

Regardless of what you call it, the picture should show the components of the risk in familiar locations, and the relationships between the components should be clear. There should be places to list all of the facts you know about the risk. Facts are critical, because they are the key to making a risk less threatening or subjective. Team members can discuss facts rationally, whereas they will argue about the risk itself and never reach consensus on it. Furthermore, these facts will lead you directly to effective actions that you can take to mitigate the risk.

To see how this works, including two case studies, read our article, “A Portrait of Risk.

(c) Copyright 2013 Preston G. Smith. All Rights Reserved.


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