Risk Management Wisdom and Humor of the Ages

Most of us have personal and career goals. Our ability to achieve those goals is dependent on our risk management skills, that is our ability to manage opportunities and threats. We seek to make good things happen and to eliminate or reduce the bad things.

Books of Quotes

Through the years, I have captured my favorite quotes related to the art and science of risk management. I hope you enjoy the insights as well as the humor.

1. "The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling but in rising every time we fall." —NELSON MANDELA, SOUTH AFRICAN STATESMAN

2. "Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude." —THOMAS JEFFERSON, U.S. PRESIDENT

3. “People with goals succeed because they know where they are going.” —EARL NIGHTINGALE, MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER AND AUTHOR

4. “A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses those skills to accomplish his goals.” —LARRY BIRD, NBA PLAYER AND COACH

5. "The world is getting to be such a dangerous place, a man is lucky to get out of it alive." —W.C. FIELDS, COMEDIAN AND MOVIE STAR

"They that are on their guard and appear ready to receive their adversaries are in much less danger of being attacked than the supine, secure and negligent." —BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, SCIENTIST, PUBLISHER, AND DIPLOMAT 

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6. “There is a myth that people hate change. Not true! What scares them isn’t change, it’s uncertainty. They worry about whether the changes are good or bad. People love change when it involves pleasant surprises. What they fear are the unpleasant ones.” —ALAN MULALLY, CEO OF FORD MOTOR COMPANY

7. “Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.” —WINSTON CHURCHILL, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM

8. “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith.” —FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT, U.S. PRESIDENT

9. "A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week." —GEORGE S. PATTON, GENERAL IN THE U.S. ARMY

10. “The man who comes up with a means for doing or producing almost anything better, faster, or more economically has his future and his fortune at his fingertips.” —J. PAUL GETTY, ANGLO-AMERICAN INDUSTRIALIST

11. "Not only do I not know what's going on, I wouldn't know what to do about it if I did." -GEORGE CARLIN, COMEDIAN

12. "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer." —SUN-TZU, CHINESE GENERAL AND MILITARY STRATEGIST

owl reading a book

13. “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent in doing nothing.” —GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, IRISH PLAYWRIGHT RISK

14. “They that are on their guard and appear ready to receive their adversaries are in much less danger of being attacked than the supine, secure and negligent.” —BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, SCIENTIST, PUBLISHER, AND DIPLOMAT

15. “When you arrive at a fork in the road, take it.” —YOGI BERRA, BASEBALL PLAYER

16. “100 percent of the shots you don’t take don’t go in.” —WAYNE GRETZKY, PROFESSIONAL HOCKEY PLAYER

17. “You decide what it is you want to accomplish and then you lay out your plans to get there, and then you just do it. It’s pretty straightforward.” —NANCY DITZ, MARATHONER

18. “Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them become what they are capable of being.” —JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE, GERMAN WRITER AND POLYMATH

19. “The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” —GROUCHO MARX, COMEDIAN AND MOVIE STAR

20. “I could tell that my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio.” —RODNEY DANGERFIELD, COMEDIAN

 

3 Ways Your Team Makes Your Project More Risky

This is a guest article by Elizabeth Harrin from GirlsGuideToPM.com.

Much of the time, risk management at the beginning of a project looks like getting the team in a room to review the whole project and work out what might be coming that could affect how the project proceeds.

The project manager writes up the discussion in the risk register along with what the team is going to do to avoid or amplify (in the case of positive risk) the risks. As the project progresses, more risks are identified, dutifully added and managed.

Team Risks

Risks Caused by Team Members

What’s happening here is that we’re looking at the work and impacts on the work. This approach to risk management is very task driven. We ask questions like:

  • What might prevent us from hitting that milestone on time?
  • What might mean we need to ask for a budget increase during this phase?
  • What quality problems might we come across that would give the client an issue?
  • Who might be a difficult stakeholder on the project?

These are all valid questions. But they miss one crucial area that massively affects everything on the project every day. Us. The project team.

Our skills, ability to work together as a team, or lack thereof, present the biggest chance of success for the project and also the biggest risk.

Here are some examples of how the people on your team make your project inherently more risky.

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10 Simple Ways to Thank Your Project Team

Your project team has just completed a major project or hit a significant milestone. The team members have worked hard and put in the extra hours to bring in another successful project. So, how do you thank your project team? What ways will you let them know you care?

thank you card

Thank You Card

Practical Ways to Thank Your Project Team

1. Send a hand written thank-you note. I recently saw a Thank-You card pinned to someone’s cubicle wall. The card was dated five years earlier. Why would someone keep a card that long? Hand-written notes are a rare commodity in our digital age. Furthermore, tangible notes may be displayed and savored.

2. Send a thank-you photo card. Take a photo or two, create a photo card, and mail the cards to your team members.

3. Take your team to lunch. If your project budget allows, take your team out for lunch after the completion of a major milestone or completion of the project. During lunch, share your thoughts and acknowledge each team member’s contributions. Additionally, reinforce the project’s significance to the company’s strategic vision.

project team

Project Team

“What I have discovered is that as I do the work of personalizing recognitions into the work of my team, I become a more empathic and involved leader in the process.” –Claire Jenkins

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Taking Action After a Project Management Symposium

You've just invested your precious time in a project management symposium, conference, or training class. Congratulations on being proactive in your project management development. But how can you take action after a symposium to obtain the full benefits of your learning?

Project Management Symposium

Project Management Symposium

Why You Should Take Action Soon?

Here's the problem we all face when attending a project management symposium. Things at work don't stop, do they? More emails and voicemails have arrived. New problems have popped up. It can take days to recover.

But, if we fail to take action from the symposium soon, we forget what we've learned. Our motivation to change wains. And our personal growth—that we so badly want—does not occur.

It's frustrating, isn't it? You've gained some new knowledge to advance your career. How can you review and reinforce your learning? What's the trick of transforming your newly gained knowledge into powerful skills?

"Don't fear failure. Fear being in the exact same place next year as you are today." —Michael Hyatt

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9 Great Excuses Not to Mature as a Project Manager

If you are reading this it means that you're struggling to mature as a project manager. You watch others get their certifications. You see more junior project managers getting the promotions. Your peers are getting the salary increases. Why not you? 

List of excuses

What are your excuses?

Just because you have practiced project management for a long time does not mean that you are getting better. Perhaps you have this gnawing feeling deep down inside that you aren't putting in the effort to mature as a project manager.

And it's frustrating because you are capable of more...way more!

We must not allow our excuses to hold us hostage. Examine them closely.

Furthermore, let's up our game, serve others, and reach our greatest potential.

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8 Powerful Ways to Manage Project Quality

Why is project quality often neglected? Well, it's hard to manage things we don't understand. And quality seems to be an esoteric concept to many people. Therefore, let's define quality and discuss some practical ways to manage project quality.

Project team focused on quality

Project team focused on quality

Quality Management Tips

1. Make quality management pragmatic. Many people do not invest appropriate effort towards quality because they do not understand it. The Project Management Institute defines quality as “conformance to requirements and fitness of use.” According to this definition, quality comes through clearly defining and meeting the requirements of the users and stakeholders.

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How to Become the Most Compelling Project Manager You Will Ever Know

Every project is a story. Projects begin and end. Plots and subplots abound. Interesting characters interact and react, with good and evil motives. Are you a compelling project manager who commands the ship?

10 Attributes of a Compelling Project Manager

Some project managers act in boring and predictable manners. Others capture and hold your attention. You can't wait to see the next chapter. What makes some project leaders so captivating and believable?

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How to Improve Interpersonal Project Management Skills

Think of the project managers you admire most. Often, these are individuals who possess more than the technical skills such as developing project schedules and performing risk analysis. These project managers have strong interpersonal project management skills. So, what are interpersonal skills? Why are they important? And, how can we improve these critical skills?

picture of project manager communicating to a team

Project Manager Facilitating a Project Meeting

What are Interpersonal Project Management Skills

Interpersonal skills are relational and communication skills. They are soft skills, but that does not mean they are not important. Seth Godin argues that these should be called real skills -- these skills are critical to our success.

Imagine a project team with strong-willed individuals who battled one another over a buy vs. build decision. Sally, a long-time employee and senior developer, made a case for leveraging the tools and experience of the company to build a solution. John, an operational manager said, "We don't have time to develop a solution; our competition is already ahead of us. Let's buy and implement a commercial solution as soon as possible." How would you have handled the relational and communication aspects of this conflict?

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How to Master Meeting Minutes

Do you and your team members lose track of the things you discussed in your project meetings? Who was to complete that action item? Who owns that risk? What did we decide to do? Sound familiar? Let's talk about how to master meeting minutes.

Scribe typing meeting minutes

When I published my blog post entitled Four Meeting Problems, I received several questions about recording minutes. Questions included:

  • Who should scribe?
  • What makes a good scribe?
  • What should be included in the minutes?
  • How do you ensure the minutes are accurate?
  • Where should we store minutes?

Allow me to share a few tips. I am reminded of George Orwell's comment: "Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious." For both newbies as well as experienced project managers, it is good to get back to the basics.

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6 Tools and Techniques for Controlling Risks

Changes in project risks are inevitable. As a project progresses, the probability and impact of current risks change, new risks emerge, and residual risks may increase or decrease. What tools and techniques can project managers use for controlling risks and getting the results they are looking for?

Tool box with tools

Allow me to introduce you to two project managers—Tom and Susan. Tom started his project with a risk identification exercise with several stakeholders resulting in a list of 77 risks. He entered these risks into an Excel spreadsheet and stored the file in his project repository (and never looked at it again).

Susan, on the other hand, facilitated an early risk identification workshop. She periodically met with her team to review current risks and used additional techniques to identify new risks. In these risk review sessions, the team discussed the effectiveness of the risk responses and the risk management processes.

Which team do you think had the greatest chance of meeting their project objectives? Yes, Susan’s team wins the day, hands down.

Let’s look at six tools and techniques recommended in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) 5th Edition for controlling risks. 

PMBOK 6th Edition

The PMBOK 6th Edition changed the process name of "Control Risks" to "Monitor Risks."


"Monitor Risks is the process of monitoring the implementation of agreed-upon risk response plans, tracking identified risks, identifying and analyzing new risks, and evaluating risk process effectiveness throughout the project."


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Risk Control Tools and Techniques

1. Risk reassessment

Risk reassessments involve the following activities:

  • Identifying new risks
  • Evaluating current risks
  • Evaluating the risk management processes
  • Closing risks 

2. Risk audit

Project teams may have defined risk responses. The question is—“Are the responses effective?” Project managers facilitate risk audits to examine the effectiveness of the risk responses and to determine whether changes are required. The team also examines the processes to identify, evaluate, respond to, and control risks.

3. Variance and trend analysis

As with many control processes, we now look for variances between the schedule and cost baselines and the actual results. When we the variances are increasing, there is increased uncertainty and risk. Watch the trends and respond before the situation gets out of hand.

4. Technical performance measurement

Imagine that you are working on a software development project and that the functional requirements have been developed. You’ve planned to deliver functions at a point in time—at the end of the fourth sprint, at the end of phase 1, or a milestone. The technical performance measurement is a measurement of the technical accomplishments.

5. Reserve analysis

During the cost planning, the contingency and management reserves are added to the project budget as needed. As risks occur, the reserves may decrease. Depending on how your organization handles reserves and your risk management plan, project managers may request more reserves when inadequate.

6. Meetings

Project managers should be deliberate risk managers. Engage your team members and appropriate stakeholders in meetings to facilitate the risk management processes. For these meetings, be sure to:

  • Distribute an agenda with a clearly stated purpose
  • Invite the appropriate team members and stakeholders
  • Use appropriate tools and techniques
  • Distribute meeting minutes containing decisions, action items, issues, and risks 

Finish the Drill

Don’t be like Tom who started his risk management with a bang and quickly fizzled. The best project managers identify, evaluate, and respond to risks. And they regularly perform the control activities to keep the project healthy.

Hey, before you go, keep in mind—you can't control risks until you first identify risks. Click here to discover 7 ways to identify project risks.