In Part I and Part II, we explored five ineffective strategies and two somewhat more effective strategies for managing risk. In this Part III, we complete our little catalog with three of the more effective strategies.
- Transformation strategies entail exchanging the risk or risks in question for a different risk or risks. After the transformation, the asset at risk might be different, or it might be imperiled in a different way, or both. For example, if we're traveling from A to B, and two routes are available, Route 1 might be more congested, while Route 2 might be more hazardous. If we take Route 1 we might lose time; if we take Route 2 we might lose the vehicle and its passengers.
- Slogan: "That risk vanishes if we use this alternative approach, but then we would have to deal with this other risk instead."
- Advantage: If we can't deal with risk event A, but we can deal with risk event B, then we can proceed with confidence if we take an approach in which risk event A cannot occur, but risk event B might.
- Danger: Dealing with risk usually entails estimation. Our estimates can be wrong, either because of the errors inherent in estimation, or because we mislead ourselves.
- In compensation strategies, we arrange that if the risk event occurs, we make up for it somehow.
- Slogan: "If we take these steps, then these good things will happen if the risk materializes."
- Advantage: In compensation strategies, we
arrange that if the risk event
occurs, we make up
for it somehowEven if we can't sufficiently limit the probability or size of the loss, we can proceed with confidence, because the net value of the compensation minus the expected value of the loss is acceptable.
- Danger: We might be so emotionally committed to proceeding that we overestimate the value of the compensation.
- In transfer strategies, we arrange to have some other person or organization (the counter party) bear the consequences of the risk. When the transfer is by mutual agreement, the parties usually exchange some resources as well. Purchasing insurance is an example of a risk transfer strategy.
- Slogan: "If we do this, then we don't have to deal with that risk. They will."
- Advantage: Transferring risk to another party can relieve us of the burden of planning for the risk. The sum of both the resources required for such planning and the expected value of the loss can exceed the cost of transferring the risk.
- Danger: The counter party might not be strong enough, or ethical enough, to cover the loss. When counter parties are coerced into accepting the risk, their reliability can be dubious. Be certain that the transfer is real.
Project risk is inherently imprecise, both numerically and conceptually. By far, the greatest risk is the risk of overlooking or misunderstanding a significant risk, including this one. Ironically, I have never seen it mentioned in a risk plan. First in this series Top Next Issue
Projects never go quite as planned. We expect that, but we don't expect disaster. How can we get better at spotting disaster when there's still time to prevent it? How to Spot a Troubled Project Before the Trouble Starts is filled with tips for executives, senior managers, managers of project managers, and sponsors of projects in project-oriented organizations. It helps readers learn the subtle cues that indicate that a project is at risk for wreckage in time to do something about it. It's an ebook, but it's about 15% larger than "Who Moved My Cheese?" Just USD 19.95. Order Now! .
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More articles on Project Management:
- Are You Changing Tactics or Moving the Goal Posts?
- When we make a mid-course correction in a project, we're usually responding to a newly uncovered difficulty
that requires a change in tactics. Sometimes, we can't resist the temptation to change the goals of
the project at the same time. And that can be a big mistake.
- Films Not About Project Teams: II
- Here's Part II of a list of films and videos about project teams that weren't necessarily meant to be
about project teams. Most are available to borrow from the public library, and all are great fun.
- Yet More Obstacles to Finding the Reasons Why
- Part III of our catalog of obstacles encountered in retrospectives, when we try to uncover why we succeeded
— or failed.
- Missing the Obvious: I
- At times, when the unexpected occurs, we recognize with hindsight that the unexpected could have been
expected. How do we miss the obvious? What's happening when we do?
- The Ultimate Attribution Error at Work
- When we attribute the behavior of members of groups to some cause, either personal or situational, we
tend to make systematic errors. Those errors can be expensive and avoidable.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming May 29: Newtonian Blind Alleys: II
- Some of our decisions don't turn out well. The nature of our errors does vary, but a common class of errors is due to applying concepts from physics originated by Isaac Newton. One of these is the concept of spectrum. Available here and by RSS on May 29.
- And on June 5: I Could Be Wrong About That
- Before we make joint decisions at work, we usually debate the options. We come together to share views, and then a debate ensues. Some of these debates turn out well, but too many do not. Allowing for the fact that "I could be wrong" improves outcomes. Available here and by RSS on June 5.
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- 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.