Things in life can be difficult to see and understand. We have trouble making decisions due to the lack of clarity. The same is true in our projects. Let’s look at how to visualize project risks and do work that really matters.
Some of you may be old enough to remember the song I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash. Nash sings that he can see clearly now the rain has gone; he can see all the obstacles in his way. Let’s spend some time today looking at how to cut clutter from our personal and professional lives, identify the obstacles, and take the essential actions to reach our goals.
I recently read the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. McKeown says, “Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. The Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the nonessentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage.” This is the essence of risk management.Continue reading
People have expectations. Individuals, teams, or organizations have a strong belief that something is going to happen in the future.
Project sponsors expect projects to be completed in a timely fashion. Developers expect clear requirements. Testers expect the test region to be stable. Users expect that all of their needs will be met. Vendors expect a statement of work.
Sometimes the expectations are valid; other times the expectations are false. The individual’s expectations are unrealistic or invalid. What causes false expectations and how can we set and maintain the proper expectations?
Let’s look at seven common causes of false expectations and what we can do about each. Take note that all of these problems are related to communications.
If you survey people involved in projects on the importance of risk management for achieving project objectives, a high percentage of the participants will say risk management is important or very important. I’ve seen survey results where 90% of the people thought risk management was important. So…why do few people employ and support risk management?
Many people have had a bad experience. Project managers have performed risk management poorly. Let’s look at several reasons why project risk management can become useless and what we can do to gain better project results through risk management.
Weathermen have an allotted time to forecast the weather. How do they deliver the most important information in a brief amount of time? How do weathermen determine what to say? Let’s explore seven ways to communicate more effectively.
Do you see the project planning process as a hoop you have to jump through to get to the real work? Yes, I know…we all want to bypass the planning and get on with the execution.
We are ready to develop the deliverables and solve the world’s problems. The project team wants to get their hands dirty and show the sponsor and stakeholders that they are in the thick of things.
Let’s skip the planning stuff and get on with it! Not so quick my dear friend. Danger lies ahead.
Every white-water rafter will tell you the same thing – scout a rapid when you are a safe distance away. You see the Danger! Rapids Ahead signs. The prudent rafter exits the river to check out what’s ahead and to determine their approach to the rapids.
Experienced project managers understand this principle too. Before entering the uncertain waters of a project, we bring the future into the present. We develop a plan that allows us to make our journey safely. Who knows, we may even have a little fun along the way.Continue reading
Have you ever had a customer accept your project work although they were not happy with the project?
According to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, customer is “the person(s) or organization that will pay for the project’s products, service, or result. Customers can be internal or external to the performing organization.”
Internal customers have many problems. The problems may include:
My family has a tradition of going to a Christmas tree farm, selecting a tree, bringing it home, setting it up and decorating. This year was a disaster…here’s my story (please don’t tell anyone) and the risk mitigation strategies I learned.
Normally, we get our tree the day after Thanksgiving. Not this year. We waited until the second weekend of December to make our tree trek. My wife Sherri and I took our dog Hobson with us (our son and daughter now live out of town). There were very few trees left.
We finally found one that didn’t look like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. The trunk looked straight, and the tree looked fine (no gaping holes if you looked from the right side). I cut the tree. The tree farm owner shook the needles out, wrapped the tree in a net, and helped me tie the tree on top of our car.Continue reading
Some project managers have a defensive mindset…they primarily focus on threats. It’s time to achieve more by thinking differently.
Opportunities abound. They are all around us.
Consider these day-to-day opportunities in our personal lives.
Your favorite clothing retailer is advertising a 30% discount on a new suit you been eyeing.
Starbucks is offering Pumpkin Spice Latte for a brief season. “Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove. Creamy milk and pumpkin pie spices. Your PSL is waiting for you.”
Your company is offering free flu shots for the next two weeks…I’ll take the Pumpkin Spice Latte.
What project opportunities are within your reach? What unique set of variables provide you with a chance for improving your schedule, budget, and quality? How can you convert uncertain opportunities into a realized benefits?
Many individuals have fuzzy notions about opportunities. We cannot leverage its power until we understand it. Let’s look closer with a magnifying glass.
The PMBOK defines risk as “an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on one or more project objectives such as scope, schedule, cost, and quality.”
Furthermore, the PMBOK defines an opportunity as “a risk that would have a positive effect on one or more project objectives.” Therefore, negative risks are considered to be threats and positive risks are opportunities.
I am a member of some project management LinkedIn Groups that have had heated debates concerning whether an opportunity is a risk ad nauseam. Some people define risks as strictly a negative event or condition. I understand their perspective.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines risk as “the possibility that something bad or unpleasant (such as injury or a loss) will happen.”
Once a project manager says they do not consider opportunities as risks, and then many of these individuals excuse themselves from the hunt for opportunities.
Don’t fall into this trap. Define [risk] and determine how you will identify and manage both threats and opportunities. Include your definitions and processes in your risk management plan.Continue reading