Project Practitioners > Why no one wants to identify risks

Why no one wants to identify risks

By Cinda Voegtli

Interesting factoid from a recent Risk Management class I taught inside a large, established company:

When we discussed why this company is so large, with establisehd processes in other areas, yet not doing project risk management  (and in a complex, risky, regulated industry to boot), here is what emerged:

Risk identification is not being done consistently or thoroughly on our projects, because our executives see discussion of risk as "Focusing on failure", "denigrating our own capabilities, because it implies we can't do things without making mistakes, or we are not good enough to naturally overcome difficulties" and "if you bring up things that could go wrong, you are not being a team player."

Wow.  Just, wow.

Now the good news is that the company was of course holding a risk management class at all.  The PMs across a large number of departments agreed this was THE topic to use their group training dollars on that year.  A few managers from those departments popped into the class to check it out.  And the attendees also said that at the corporate level, the importance of proactive risk management WAS being acknowledged more and slowly opening up to exploration.  But the project managers and team members clearly still felt hesistant. Some didn't yet feel comfortable even suggesting as PM that the team do risk identification.  Some said that their teams were so time-strapped, no one would agree to spending an hour talking about risk.

(That also evokes a few Wows and Yikes out of me.) 

But these are the real-world hurdles that get in the way of doing the stuff we take for granted as "good things to do on projects and programs."   The things we have to get past to make management stuff actually work on the ground.

Curious to know whether others encounter the above risk-discussion-roadblocks - or others.  What's keeping some teams or even your organization, from wanting to acknowledge or spend time on risk? 





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