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How Risk Reduction is (and isn’t) Rocket Science

Have you ever working on risk management or reading a risk management report and wondered why it seemed so difficult? After all, it’s not like it’s rocket science, right? Actually, according to an article on Knowledge Exchange, it may be. In rocket science, you must focus on multiple areas of one project if you even hope to make success possible. The same can certainly be said of risk management:

How do you get a five-ton spacecraft safely to Saturn and land a probe on its largest moon when your project involves three space agencies, 17 countries, 18 separate scientific payloads, and 250 scientists working across 10 time zones? New findings from the Project Management Institute (PMI) suggest that organizations that focus on excellence in project management execution can reduce risk, improve performance, save money and achieve a greater return on investment.

The article suggests that organizations should do what NASA does when managing projects. This includes using project portfolio management when prioritizing, having active executive project sponsors, and maintaining a constant focus on talent within teams and project leaders. There may be many components to one singular goal. It is important to maintain a strong organizational structure.

The article also notes that focusing on strategic goals rather than focusing solely on performance goals will surely be beneficial. In fact, according to the Pulse survey mentioned in the article, projects teams who focused on strategic goals saw as much as a 20% success rate increase in some cases. In many cases, risk management will not be as difficult as rocket science. However, when things become difficult, rocket science may indeed have something to teach us all.


About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI’s Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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