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Why Every PM Should Worry About Risk Identification!

Trying to avoid a nervous breakdown resulting from a wayward project? Well, look no further than Geoff Crane’s The Papercut Project Manager blog. In one post, he shares a story of tragedy that highlights the unequivocally essential nature of project risk identification. A similar experience would have anyone hugging their legs in despair.

Revisiting the Site of Trauma

The story begins with a family death and a project budget that approaches one billion dollars before it is shut down in complete failure and ruin. To be sure, Crane himself has nothing but success stories to share until this moment. Sound like you? Well, it didn’t work out this time for the prodigious PM. But instead of pointing the finger at management or other external factors (he does so hintingly), Geoff places the blame squarely on himself.

The Big Uh-oh

What specifically went wrong this time, you ask? What Geoff had never encountered in the past was a project riddled with risk events that started “popping like lemmings on a Cambodian minefield.”

If that particular job taught me anything, it’s this. Project risk is the jellyfish beneath the glass-smooth water. It’s the brown recluse spider above the light-bulb chain in your closet. It’s the fault-line under the shopping mall. If you worry about those things and they’re really there, you’re not being paranoid!

The Lesson – Consider it Learned

Before having to learn this lesson the way Geoff did, take into account the possibility that real risks can be identified in every project. Just because they seem marginal or non-threatening, it doesn’t make them any less risky. PMs with psychological trauma are no aid to themselves, the sponsor or the project team. Build risk identification into your project plans. Check for risks and check often.

Read the original blog post at:

About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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