How to Identify and Manage Secondary Risks

Have you ever tried to address an issue and created a different problem?

A response to risk can create other risks. These secondary risks may be more significant than the primary risks if we are not careful.

Secondary Risks

Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock (edited in Canva)

One of the Pink Panther cartoon episodes pits the Pink Panther against a mouse in his house. The mouse was driving the Pink Panther crazy; he had to find a way to eliminate this problem.

The Pink Panther, dressed in a catsuit, chased the mouse out of the house and down the street. The neighborhood dogs pursued the “cat.” The Pink Panther ran for his life but was torn to shreds.

What is a secondary risk?

A secondary risk is a risk that is created by a response to another risk.

7 Things You Ought to Know About Identifying Risks

Increase Your Risk Management IQ

Every project manager deals with risks. We all face significant uncertainty. Allow me to share seven things you ought to know about identifying risks.

Project managers must address unrealistic time frames where failure seems unavoidable, scope creep, ambiguous requirements, delays from third parties, and the lack of required skills, to name a few.

man stopping dominoes from falling


How do we manage risks and the causal factors?

Risk management begins with the practice of identifying risks. In this process, we consider future events or conditions that may impact our ability to achieve our goals. Risk identification includes figuring out where, when, how, and why such events may occur.

Not sure how to get the most value from risk identification? Well, here are answers to common questions. If you understand these basic principles, you have the foundation for an effective and efficient risk identification process.

How to Actually Define Risk Categories

Tom is the program manager for a large, complex program comprised of eight projects. He thinks his project managers have identified most of their risks, but he’s not sure where to focus his attention. What areas have the highest risk exposure? Let’s look at how to actually define risk categories and how they can help Tom (and you).

a hierarchy chart representing risk categories

What are Risk Categories?

Risk categories allow you to group individual project risks for evaluating and responding to risks.

Project managers often use a common set of project risk categories: schedule, cost, quality, and scope. But project managers may use other categories.

The Risk Management Plan

Most of your project problems can be avoided or greatly reduced through risk management. The simple act of identifying and discussing risks goes a long way towards reducing problems in your project.

Let’s look at how to start the risk management process. Here are some questions that we should answer.

  • How will you identify risks?
  • Who will be involved?
  • How often will you perform risk management activities?
  • What tools and techniques will you use?
  • Who will own the project risks

How to Plan Your Risk Management From Start to Finish

Steven Covey introduced the concept of Quadrant II activities—working on things that are important but are not urgent. Planning is a powerful Quadrant II activity that can save you time and energy. Think about the future so you can make better decisions in the present. Let’s talk about how to plan your risk management from start to finish.

picture of clip board

First Things First

Some people think of risk management plans in the wrong way. Risk management plans are not a list of risks and what you plan to do (e.g. risk register). Rather the plan is your approach to risk management.

  • How do you plan to identify and evaluate risks?
  • How will you develop risk response plans?
  • How will you periodically review risks and your risk management processes?
  • What are your risk thresholds?
  • How will you escalate issues?

Here are four tips for creating your plan.

5 Things You Should Know About the PMI-RMP®

Every project has risks—events or conditions that, if they occur, have positive or negative effects on a project’s objectives.  And project managers are risk managers, some better than others. If you want to improve your project success through better risk management, consider getting certified as a Risk Management Professional. Here are some things you should know about the PMI-RMP.

picture of someone taking an PMI-RMP® exam on a computer


1. What is the PMI-RMP®?

The PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP) is a designation offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). This credential is for project management professionals who wish to demonstrate specialized knowledge and skills in project risk management.

How to Right-Size Your Risk Management Plan

One reason a project manager may have a bad reputation is bloated project plans. Too much sauce! While I’m a fan of planning, let’s use some common sense and right-size our risk management plans.

picture of a stadium and a house


Plans should vary in size, dependent on the size and scope of your projects. A risk management plan for the Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be much larger than a plan for a Southern Living Idea House.

Why is that some project managers have over or undersized risk management plans? First, individuals may be looking for shortcuts. They simply copy someone else’s plan and check a box. Second, others want to impress others with their knowledge by writing plans longer than The Grapes of Wrath.

Want to really make a good impression? Work with your team to develop a risk management plan that is fitting to your project, aids in decision making, and adds value. Document the plan but keep it practical and to-the-point.

So, how can we right-size our plans? Here are four steps to make it easier.

How to Respond to Difficult Presentation Questions

Improve your project presentation skills

Project managers often give presentations to groups such as senior leaders, boards, and third-party vendors. The truth is most people are afraid of public speaking. After all, we may make a mistake and be criticized. Let’s discuss how to respond to difficult and sometimes unexpected presentation questions. 

picture of microphone

8 Ways to Respond to Questions

Allow me to share a few tips that can help you to answer with greater ease:

How to Engage Participants in a Project Management Workshop

John, Sally, and Bill just left a full-day project management workshop. John said, “Am I the only one who felt like I just wasted a day?” Sally replied, “The trainer lost me in the first thirty minutes. At least, I caught up on my email during the day.”


Are you responsible for project management workshops for a PMI Chapter, a Project Management Office (PMO), or your organization? Want to ensure that your participants get maximum value? Let’s talk about how to design workshops that are engaging. Project managers will leave your workshops excited about what they learned.

Whether you are the trainer or the VP of Programs for a PMI Chapter or something similar, here are some principles to help you design your workshops.

Seven Project Management Influencers to Watch

Up your game with new project management resources

If you had to pick a few people who are helping you grow and mature as a project manager, who would those people be? Perhaps these individuals are influencing you through a blog, online videos, online courses, or books. Grab a cup of coffee as I share seven influencers that I follow.


1. Susanne Madsen

From the UK, Susanne Madsen is an internationally recognized project leadership coach, trainer, and consultant. She is the author of The Project Management Coaching Workbook and The Power of Project Leadership. Her focus is helping you become a confident leader, able to inspire, motivate, and deliver value.

In addition to her books, Susanne provides great articles on her website. She shares her knowledge through videos on her Susanne Madsen YouTube Channel. Susanne also actively shares her knowledge on Twitter @SusanneMadsen.