The new world of risk management for PMs

By Rick Freedman, Special to ZDNet Asia
Wednesday, May 12, 2010 12:22 PM

Read suggestions about how IT PMs should change their approach to risk in this new environment where everyone is more conscious of risk management.
After a long risk management session, in which the project manager (PM) tries to get the team to consider all reasonable risks and opportunities, the PM will ask the wrap-up question, "Are there any other risks we haven't captured?"
Some sarcastic wag will inevitably respond with what he considers to be an out-there scenario: "The building could blow up!" or "The next great depression might start!" The point of these remarks is usually to chide the PM to stop taking everyone's time spinning improbable scenarios of disaster and just let the engineers get on with their work.
If the twenty-first century has taught us anything, it's that these out-there predictions have a nasty habit of occurring. In fact, the incidence of these improbable events, and their obvious impact, has inspired a theory that is described in the best-selling book "The Black Swan" by Nassim Taleb.
The author's proposition, in short, is that the human brain is wired for pattern recognition and so it sees patterns and narratives where none exist. This gives rise to the fallacy that we can accurately predict the future from the past and that events will follow the patterns that we have recently observed.
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