When it comes to risk management, it is always about how much you are willing to accept regards the reality of the project.

A couple of weeks ago I had a risk identification workshop for a large IT project. The team of subject matter experts had to identify risks for the implementation of the new ERP for their aeronautical company.

It was an interesting exercise, each one of them identified risks in their areas prior to the workshop. When they were finished declaring them to the rest of the team; they realize that most of them were issues that must be managed as soon as possible, not risks. They were shocked!

It is tricky how old paradigms about risk work. In this kind of workshops, I always identify two:

  1. All risks are negative: In project management there are positive risks. So, if you are a stakeholder, team member, project manager or sponsor, you should identify opportunities to increase benefits for the project and develop a plan to ensure these opportunities are achieved.
  2. All problems are risks: If what you are identifying is already happening, you must manage an issue, not a risk. Risks are uncertain events that might affect (positive or negative) project objectives.

As soon as you identify a risk; your duty as project manager is to send a S.O.S. (Save Our Souls) to your sponsor and to your team as a warning to agree upon a plan if this uncertain event happens to implement whenever it raises.

Instead of having a plan, people frequently hear S.O.S. calls meaning IS TOO LATE to recover, and a change order must be issued.

In order to be an effective Project Manager, we must differentiate between

the two kinds of these S.O.S. calls: SAVE OUR SOULS vs SH@# OH SH#@!