Risk resistance is the objection to all or part of a risk plan's content. Typically, objectors are project sponsors or senior managers. Typical objections are that the risks in question are fictitious, or that the mitigation plan is too expensive. Since the organizational power of the objectors generally exceeds that of the risk plan's authors, authors often simply eliminate or downgrade the items with which objectors disagree.
Although risks rarely materialize as projected, something similar often does. A classic example is the flooding of New Orleans in 2005. Concerns about such catastrophes trace back at least to the Flood Control Act of 1965, but the resources provided over the years for mitigating flood risk were most inadequate. The result of these mitigation downgrades is the disaster following Hurricane Katrina.
Downgrading risk plans — or their funding — doesn't downgrade the risk or make risk mitigation any cheaper. Instead, it opens gaps between risk plans and reality. That's how risk resistance creates risk. Here are four methods for addressing risk resistance risk.
- Make risk plan revision traceable
- Document risk plan revision in a Risk Plan Revision History — a section of the project plan that documents the downgrading of risk probability estimates and risk mitigation budgets.
- Traceability facilitates corrective action when the organization is found unprepared for risks that do materialize. Record in the History the original risk plan elements, the reasoning supporting the modifications, and the dates of and parties to the downgrade decisions.
- Retrospectively review gaps between risk plans and reality
- After an unanticipated risk materializes, and its full impact on budget and schedule are known, review how it was addressed in the risk plan.
- Was the risk anticipated in the final plan? If not, was it addressed in any earlier versions of the risk plan? Were earlier versions of the plan downgraded? Use the Risk Plan Revision History to answer these questions.
- Measure risk response budgets and actuals
- Keep accurate historical data measuring both the budget and actuals for risk response.
- Managing risk more Document risk plan revision in
a Risk Plan Revision Historyeffectively requires narrowing the gap between risk plan budgets and risk response expenditures. Rarely do we have the necessary data available when we try to assess our risk performance. Start collecting it now.
- Measure risk performance globally
- Mitigating risk by taking actions that harm other projects can be expensive to the organization.
- Some projects use political power to export the costs of their risk responses onto other projects. For example, reassigning people with rare skills — or holding onto them longer than planned — might aid one project, but it can harm others. To assign responsibility for these costs correctly, measure risk response costs across the entire organization, as opposed to per-project.
Objectors to risk plans, who often recognize the implications of the measures suggested here, might raise objections to implementing them. Begin advocacy or implementation only when you're prepared to meet those objections. Top Next Issue
Is every other day a tense, anxious, angry misery as you watch people around you, who couldn't even think their way through a game of Jacks, win at workplace politics and steal the credit and glory for just about everyone's best work including yours? Read 303 Secrets of Workplace Politics, filled with tips and techniques for succeeding in workplace politics. More info
Your comments are welcomeWould you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenmhXARWRMUvVyOdHlner@ChacxgDmtwOKrxnripPCoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.
About Point Lookout
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.
Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.
Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.
More articles on Project Management:
- Nine Project Management Fallacies: III
- Some of what we "know" about managing projects just isn't so. Identifying the fallacies of
project management reduces risk and enhances your ability to complete projects successfully.
- When Change Is Hard: II
- When organizational change is difficult, we sometimes blame poor leadership or "resistance."
But even when we believe we have good leadership and the most cooperative populations, we can still
encounter trouble. Why is change so hard so often?
- Down in the Weeds: II
- To be "down in the weeds," in one of its senses, is to be lost in discussion at a level of
detail inappropriate to the current situation. Here's Part II of our exploration of methods for dealing
with this frustrating pattern so common in group discussions.
- Ego Depletion and Priority Setting
- Setting priorities for tasks is tricky when we find the tasks unappealing, because we have limited energy
for self-control. Here are some strategies for limiting these effects on priority setting.
- Risk Creep: I
- Risk creep is a term that describes the insidious and unrecognized increase in risk that occurs despite
our every effort to mitigate risk or avoid it altogether. What are the dominant sources of risk creep?
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming January 22: Disjoint Awareness: Bias
- Some cognitive biases can cause people in collaborations to have inaccurate understandings of what each other is doing. Confirmation bias and self-serving bias are two examples of cognitive biases that can contribute to disjoint awareness in some situations. Available here and by RSS on January 22.
- And on January 29: Higher-Velocity Problem Definition
- Typical approaches to shortening time-to-market for new products usually involve accelerating problem solving. Accelerating problem definition can also help. Available here and by RSS on January 29.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenmhXARWRMUvVyOdHlner@ChacxgDmtwOKrxnripPCoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.
Get the ebook!
Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:
- Get 2001-2 in Geese Don't Land on Twigs (PDF, )
- Get 2003-4 in Why Dogs Wag (PDF, )
- Get 2005-6 in Loopy Things We Do (PDF, )
- Get 2007-8 in Things We Believe That Maybe Aren't So True (PDF, )
- Get 2009-10 in The Questions Not Asked (PDF, )
- Get all of the first twelve years (2001-2012) in The Collected Issues of Point Lookout (PDF, )
Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info
- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.