Once upon a time, when I was still a pretty new project manager, I got assigned a dotted-lined reporting relationship to someone other than my usual program manager. The project was a big one, in terms of both dollars and prestige, and the guy was nervous. All to often, we’d have conversations like this:
Mr. Nervous: “Have you done anything about risk management?” he would say.
Nev: “Yep. Here’s the risk log from yesterday’s team meeting.”
Mr. Nervous: “Why isn’t it longer? You’re obviously overlooking things!”
Nev: “Um… But the team only identified…”
Mr. Nervous: “Team shmeam! Find the rest of ‘em!”
We did this a lot. It was never fun, and he was never satisfied, at least until we delivered, which we did, well within time, budget and quality measures… in spite of the fact that we got blindsided a couple of times.
Yes. Blindsided. Hosed by unforeseen gremlins lurking in the woodwork. We had a good list, but it wasn’t quite complete. The worst part of it was Mr. Nervous’s I-told-you-so look, which alternated with his panicked look (not much of a treat, either).
The whole experience got me interested in risk management. If 90% of a PM’s job is communication, then the other 90% is risk management. So for the next few entries, that’s what I want to talk about. If you do this well, in a way you can articulate to others, not only can you mellow out the Mr. Nervous’s in your life, you can save yourself an ulcer or two.
Next: Risk Identification, Part 1