The Project Management Institute says, "high-performing companies manage risk in conjunction with projects and programs far more often than low performers do." How can you help your company manage risks and become a high performer? Let's look at ways to become a project risk management evangelist.
The lack of senior management support is one of the primary barriers to effective organizational risk management. Additionally, I believe it is also a major constraint to effective project risk management.
How can project sponsors and project managers influence senior leaders to adopt risk management and reduce the barrier to risk management? 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? Create a stakeholder engagement assessment matrix.
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. Highlight real-life examples to help people see the practical side of risk management.
Risk management is esoteric. However, risk management does not have to be complicated to be effective. Illustrate risk management with things we do every day.
"Leadership is influence. To the extent we influence others, we lead them."
If you are in an organization that has provided very little risk management training, start with simple risk management efforts. Ask questions such as:
Notice in the example above how we connect risk management to the goals. Risk management should help team members achieve results. We must first understand what needs to be accomplished and why? Without goals, risk management becomes an exercise in futility.
Rosabeth Moss Kanter said, "I've found that small wins, small projects, small differences often make huge differences." As people start and obtain tangible results, be sure to celebrate. 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!