Mark Langley, President and CEO of the Project Management Institute (PMI), penned a great article entitled Using Project Management to Reduce Risk. While the article was written for Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), it’s a message that all leaders should read. Indeed, “high-performing companies manage risk in conjunction with projects and programs far more often than low performers do.”
If this is true, how can we help organizations adopt risk management?
Mr. Langley encourages us to play the role of both champion and sponsor of risk management. Why? The lack of senior management support is one of the primary barriers to effective organizational risk management. I believe it is also the primary barrier to effective project risk management.
Can project managers influence senior leaders to adopt risk management and reduce the barrier to risk management? Yes. Allow me to share seven ways:
Want to see your organization become a high-performer? It starts with your senior leaders adopting a risk management attitude. Who are the top leaders that you need to influence?
Next, educate your leaders. Help them understand how to use risk management to get better results.
Don’t have access to the senior leaders? Who do you know that does? Who can you influence that might influence the senior leaders?
Another way to influence is from the bottom up, within your sphere of influence. Use risk management to deliver successful projects. People at higher levels will start to question how you are doing it?
Everyone is a risk manager, some better than others. We manage risks every day as we:
Risk management is esoteric to many people. However, risk management does not have to be complicated to be effective. Illustrate risk management with things we do every day.
If you are in an organization that has little training in risk management, start simple. Ask the following:
Notice in the example above how we connect risk management to the goals. Risk management should be about getting results. We must first understand what needs to be accomplished and why? Without goals, risk management falls into a deep, dark hole.
Rosabeth Moss Kanter said, “I’ve found that small wins, small projects, small differences often make huge differences.” As people start using risk management and get tangible results, be sure to celebrate the small wins. Acknowledge and affirm the change in attitudes, behavior, and the results.
Project by project, project managers help organizations manage their operational risks. Unfortunately, people may fail to connect the dots. When possible, highlight how project success leads to operational success and aids your organization in fulfilling its mission.
Rome was not built in a day; neither will you change your organization overnight. Seek to understand your culture. Work with other leaders to facilitate change at a pace that your organization will accept and embrace. Best wishes!
PMI-RMP Exam. Thinking about taking the PMI-Risk Management Professional exam? Grab a FREE copy of my guide on How to Prepare for the PMI-RMP Exam.