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Key Learning #7: Manage Risk? No Worries, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

And we come to the last of my key learnings (though really there are many more). I'm not sure if there is a priority in these learnings but certainly the need to manage risk is inherent in everything a project manager does.

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Unfortunately there are some who think managing risk is only about having a risk management plan, a few items noted in a register and everything will take care of itself.  And if all else fails "we'll worry about it when the time comes"

You only need to talk with successful project managers and you will find that, yes there are the stock standard risks that need to be identified and managed on every project, but then there are those risks that will come out of left field and will surprise even the experienced manager.

Some managers are very good at controlling the obvious risks when it comes to projects, such as cost, schedule or performance risks (i.e. delivering on specifications).  Excellent managers think broadly to also understand and control risk in the areas of governance, strategic alignment, operations, market, legal, safety, people and culture to name a few.

The "risk savvy" project manager always has their radar on, looking for risks that need addressing.  It could come from a corridor conversation, the behaviour of a key stakeholder or a question asked (or not asked).  For larger projects risks may sit outside the organisation perhaps political, environmental, economic etc and be identified through research, seminars or networking.

So for me the key to managing risk is first identifying it.  A project manager won't have all the answers so it is important to seek input from subject matter experts as well as key stakeholders.  This needs to be continual and the risk register must be updated with risks as they are identified and assessed.

Identification is of course not enough. Mitigating strategies must be developed and implemented (even if this means "accepting" the risk).  It is only when actions are implemented that risk can be minimised. 

Risk is like fire: If controlled it will help you; if uncontrolled it will rise up and destroy you." (Theodore Roosevelt)

Don't leave risk to chance. Contact Us to discuss how our Intelligent Project Teams Program will help you identify and manage risk.

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