Last Wednesday I attended a worthwhile "PM in the AM Breakfast" sponsored by the Project Management Institute at the National Press Club in Washington D.C.
At this event Carl Pritchard spoke on risk management in his engaging and humorous style. Early in his talk, Carl noted the need for clearly and consistently identifying risk at the enterprise, rather than advertising some vague fear that may or may not be realized. He illustrated this point with the deer warning signs on the GW Parkway - over many years Carl has yet to encounter a deer!
His specific recommendations in adopting meaningful risk management included:
- the value of a risk "brand" or culture at our organizations; this provides security and helps people "know where they are" as well as management's expectations (e.g. he used the analogy of our comfort in the consistent layout of Walmart stores);
- the need to use risk management terms and language consistently so that all in the organization know what we mean;
- a hallmark of this "brand" is for all employees to know in advance when management "will freak out," and at what "threshhold of pain;"
- it pays to be "anal retentive" and strict in maintaining this brand (his example of employees at a ConEdison plant collectively moaning "oh, no...!" as Carl tried to stand on a chair at to fix a light bulb...this in clear contravention of the company's safety policy!).
- good risk management implies consequences for unsuccessful projects: best to "kill them while they are young"; he gave the example of former Bell Atlantic's notation at the bottom of their project charter form with "kill criteria" for early termination of projects.
For further information on these points, please see Carl's website at www.carlpritchard.com, which also includes a good summary slide presentation on "Motivating in a Risk Aware Environment."