As defined by PMBOK”…an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on a project’s objective.”
As PM’s we manage risk by spending time identifying, analyzing, planning response/mitigation plans, tracking, controlling and communicating about project risks. We even look at Secondary and Residual risks.
Post mortems or lesson learned activities after a project often lament risks that occur, the negative impacts they’ve had….but many seem to forget that POSITIVE risks need to be reviewed as well—and sometimes they need to be celebrated, not just treated as “expected” results because they were positive.
How do you recognize positive risks?
Part of risk mitigation should include disaster preparedness and or recovery discussions. Does your company have a plan/plans? Is your team local or virtual? Do you know all the contingencies?
For example, teams in California, Alaska and Hawaii (the 3 most seismically active states) have a different set of disaster needs/plans that those who live in hurricane or typhoon locals. How about those in tornado country, wild fires prone areas, tsunami areas, or airport take-off or landing approaches (the most likely areas for plane crashes)? Do you have team members in South America or Africa that have war or guerilla insurgency activities about them?
When disasters strike; not everyone stays calm, even if they have well rehearsed disaster plans. Employees, beyond the immediate issues of their own health and those closest to them at the time of an occurrence, soon shift focus to their families. Do you have remote team members who will need assistance…do you know? It is worth discussing with you team. There may be hidden risks you are unaware of. If you can help them, you reduce your/company risk, while being a pretty decent human being. Business is (or at least should be in my opinion) all about people, and our relationships with them.
And then there is the disaster recovery. Are you sure everything is being backed up? Can you retrieve it? Can other team members retrieve it? What happens if …. You need to ask the questions and rate the risk accordingly.
You know–Murphy’s Law and the chance of certain occurrences’ adversely affecting the project [phrase memorized by numerous PM training certification classes]. Everyone identifies these in the planning of their project, right? Well, they should.
However, all too often some never revisit their risks and end up with horribly derailed projects. Risks are not look once, log and move on things. They live and change with your project and need to be re-evaluated to ensure that the contingency plans that were made are still relevant and provide the necessary contingency.
One of the most critical times is during change activities. In the blur of the hurry to integrate the change, don’t forget to re-access the risk and the contingency plan(s).
As defined by Merriam-Webster one of the definitions of grit is: ” firmness of mind or spirit : unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger “–you know–the tough stuff. The stuff that makes West Point cadets not quit. The stuff that keeps navy Seals from ringing the bell.
OK, I see the eyes rolling—what does this have to do with Project Management? Well…if you are going to be a Project Manager, you better have some good amount of grit in you. You have to have endurance for difficult, agonizing and at times, totally consuming effort.
The effort given is rewarded by movement towards mastery of the field. However, one does not become a master of Project Management overnight. Like athletes or great scholars; time in pursuit, recoveries from failures and like the little engine that could-keeping the “I can do it” mindset, are of great importance.
For someone else’s take on grit see this blog post by Bret L. Simmons: GRIT