IPMA International Project Management Association
20 February 2019 / 9:00

Talking about risks….will it help?

Does one also like to talk about risks in your organisation? Or even how those risks should be
managed. Mmmm… already a little afraid of such. And…if one talks about risks, how much
enthusiasm does it bring? Isn’t it quite often more of a “must do”, rather then a like to do? Or is your
organization already quite mature and does one even see the value added of good practice risk
management, and not only preaches such with a little window dressing here and there?

Opportunities versus Risks

Talking about opportunities in your organization, project team or with your principal is most of the
time not an issue. But when talking about risk, quite often the ostrich approach is applied; if we don’t
talk about it, than it probably isn’t around. Unfortunately the media will keep everyone posted.
Because of such, a risk or failing project is not really something that can only happen to your
competitor. Are you still of the opinion that whoever hides his risks the longest eventually wins? So,
why should we talk about risks with each other?

Not talking to and with each other about risk….
Not talking about risks may endanger a project and I guess that’s the last you would like. Just think
about cost overruns, unrealistic schedules or uncontrolled risks. You can’t always manage those away.
Risk management tools normally do what they are expected to do: keeping an overview of the most
important risks and opportunities. But also discussing the content with the required depth and
looking for causal links is another step that is not always taken in many organizations or quite often
only in a simplistic or shallow way.

However, even going into more depth can give a distorted picture when dominant voices are getting
involved into the discussion about risks and opportunities. This usually concerns the administrators
and more commercially oriented project directors, who do not sufficiently appreciate or disregard the
vision and views of the content experts. As a result, good risk management and stimulus of
opportunities will quite often not be sufficiently facilitated. Instead of a risk analysis and risk
management based on facts and practical experience, sentiments or political-administrative
preferences predominate. And that will quite often lead extra costs or time, money, frustration,
reputation or hassle afterwards

Talking to each other about risk…
When you talk about risks (and of course also opportunities) together this will make people a lot
more aware about those. Subsequently, they will respond in a more alert way and better coordinate
risk management measures with others. This will make risk management more efficient as well as
more effective and will contribute strongly to the eventual success of the project and the execution.
In addition, a good joint inventory with all relevant parties involved contributes significantly to better
risk management. Making sure that this is done in a language that appeals to everyone personally and
done with people involved who are willing to share information openly and honestly. It’s the secret to
successful projects and scientifically proven by Dr. Karel de Bakker in his PhD research: “Dialogue on

Good Practice Risk Management
Good practice risk management is about sharing each other’s thoughts about risks and opportunities,
talking about them together and translating this into effective control measures and their effects. Is
that already embedded in the culture of your organization and the behaviour of yourself and your
employees? There is obviously tooling available that is specifically aimed at stimulating discussion and
discussion about risks. Communicative risk management is the key to success…and not only in
projects. Talking with each other about risks really helps ….!

Marco Buijnsters – Business Consultant Project Management at Balance – Consulting | Projects
|Interim & Buijnsters Project Consult – Consulting | Training | Coaching | Auditing
Harry Steenwijk – Business Consultant Integral Project Management, Continuity Management and
Risk Management at Balance – Consulting | Projects |Interim & RiskChallenger

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