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 . Order Now! .
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More articles on Project Management:
- How to Make Good Guesses: Strategy
- Making good guesses — guessing right — is often regarded as a talent that cannot be taught.
Like most things, it probably does take talent to be among the first rank of those who make conjectures.
But being in the second rank is pretty good, too, and we can learn how to do that.
- Durable Agreements
- People at work often make agreements in which they commit to cooperate — to share resources, to
assist each other, or not to harm each other. Some agreements work. Some don't. What makes agreements durable?
- Nonlinear Work: Internal Interactions
- In this part of our exploration of nonlinear work, we consider the effects of interactions between the
internal elements of an effort, as distinguished from the effects of external changes. Many of the surprises
we encounter in projects arise from internals.
- Some Risks of Short-Term Fixes
- When we encounter a problem at work, we must choose between short-term fixes (also known as workarounds)
and long-term solutions. Often we choose workarounds without appreciating the risks we're accepting
— until too late.
- The Risk of Astonishing Success
- When we experience success, we're more likely to develop overconfidence. And when the success is so
extreme as to induce astonishment, we become even more vulnerable to overconfidence. It's a real risk
of success that must be managed.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming December 7: Reaching Agreements in Technological Contexts
- Reaching consensus in technological contexts presents special challenges. Problems can arise from interactions between the technological elements of the issue at hand, and the social dynamics of the group addressing that issue. Here are three examples. Available here and by RSS on December 7.
- And on December 14: Straw Man Variants
- The straw man fallacy is a famous rhetorical fallacy. Using it distorts debate and can lead groups to reach faulty conclusions. It's ad readily recognized, but it has some variants that are more difficult to spot. When unnoticed, trouble looms. Available here and by RSS on December 14.
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