Flipsides: The Unity of Risk and Opportunity

Flipsides: The Unity of Risk and Opportunity

First, let me wish happy holidays and happy new year to you, cherished readers. I’m a little late for Hanukah, a little early for Christmas and Kwanza, absurdly late for Ramadan and completely ignorant of any other holidays I could possible mention, but whatever you celebrate and whenever you celebrate it, I hope it will be great. Or was great. You get the idea.

There’s a risk I may have left somebody out in the paragraph above, or that it might be just too silly for normal people to bear. Still, with that risk comes the opportunity to send heartfelt greetings and have a little fun with writing. There’s a further risk that someone whose holiday I’ve left out will get offended and send me a nastygram, but that’s an opportunity for me to learn about some sort of celebration I’ve never heard of before (or at least to find out there’s a curmudgeon among you).

In my research, I read about risk and how you should plan for them. I also read about opportunities, how they are sort of “positive risks” and how you should reap the benefits thereof. But I don’t recall reading—much, anyway—about how every risk has an opportunity as its flipside, and every opportunity its mirror-image risk.

I think the unity of risk and opportunity has bearing on how we manage projects. Maybe in our risk analysis, along with all our mitigation questions, we should be seeking the inherent opportunity. Say there’s a risk the supplier won’t be able to provide the 100 fleems required in time for the project to stay on schedule. There’s an opportunity there to discover an alternate supplier, an alternate technology, or even an alternate schedule. If there’s an opportunity to get the fleems early, there’s a risk the sponsors will want the schedule shortened and the non-fleem tasks won’t be able to keep up. Maybe somewhere in there there’s an opportunity to learn what the heck a fleem is.

Psychological studies (with which I’m only casually familiar, I admit) are showing that, as creatures evolved to be wary of the lurking saber-toothed tiger or whatnot, human beings, project managers in particular, tend to think in terms of risk, not opportunity. But we’re also creatures of choice, not entirely enslaved by our evolutionary path. With awareness, we can consciously choose to seek out the opportunityaccompanying every risk, thus enriching our project results and even our own lives.

With that, my friends, whatever your style or time of celebration, I wish you a joyous year-end and a prosperous new year. Many thanks for patronizing this tiny corner of the blogosphere. See you in 2013!

No Comments

Post A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.