There are no risks in this project!

I am rarely stuck for words but….I was! I was running a 2 day project management training course and we were discussing risk management as a key area for project managers. It was during this session that someone uttered the following words:

“My manager told me on presenting a risk log that there are no risks in this project. Risks are seen as being negative and we do not have any negatives here.”

There was genuinely a stunned silence – even from me which is a very unusual occasion. The silence was interrupted by a comment from a project management course delegate:

“There is no excuse for stupidity”

I did ask the person who raised the issue what she said to the project sponsor. She replied that she did not feel confident to tackle the project sponsor.

Project Agency Consultant has same experience!

Switch to a conversation with Sam. She is one of  Project Agency’s Consultants . We were talking about a range of issues and including risk management. I mentioned the comment from the course. She told me that she had experienced the same issue. She was told by (again) the project sponsor, there are no risks in our projects….. Her response was to influence the manager by saying:

“Identifying risks is a positive process. It shows we have identified project risks and have a plan to manage them on an on going basis.”

This was a great response and resulted in the risk log becoming a key document in delivery of the project.

We need to be able to influence

I wrote a post called “Project Managers, You Have a Lot of Responsibility” and you do. One of those areas is to influence people including the project sponsor. I will be writing a review of a book on influencing skills very soon; a key skill for project managers!

Sam’s comments really turned the direction of the project. She was able to influence the project sponsor. We all need to be able to influence effectively.

Yes, there is no excuse for stupidity but we have to deal with it!

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9 Responses to There are no risks in this project!

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention There are no risks in this project! | Project Management Training with Ron Rosenhead --

  2. While not quite as drastic, I have often come across senior management who tell project managers that if they have more than a few risks in their register, they are not project managing effectively. It is seen as bad to have too many risks in the register.


    • Thanks Mike.

      This does put another spin on the original article. To have too many risks……I wonder how many is too many and which ones are chosen!

      Thanks again

      Ron Rosenhead

      • Scott Hedrick says:

        “I wonder how many is too many” One less than the number that might cause the major stakeholders to ask questions. You want approval, don’t rock the boat by providing anything that might lead to questions.

  3. Great post! There are many occasions when the project sponsor or any other stakeholder may take position that the project manager has to challenge for the sake of project success. After all it is not responcibility of project sponsor to drive the project correctly, the project manager is accountable for that.

    • Thanks Stan. You are absolutely right.

      I have just come back from running a 2 day project management course where 2 examples of risks were quoted. Both were missed! Both cost the company a lot of money and a lot of time (money). I read out your comment and the group agreed with you that it is the project manager who is accountable!

      Thanks again for the comment Stan.

      Regards, Ron Rosenhead

  4. Sigrid Hauer says:

    Very good – just my experience with stakeholders and some sort of project managers: “If I close my eyes, it just disappears…”.
    I found out, that talking about “surprises” instead of risks in projects sometimes helps. People react on certain “key words”. Avoiding the dangerours word “risk” can help to get them into a discussion about what might happen to their project, if they don`t pay attention ….

    • Ron Rosenhead says:

      This is a good point Sigrid. No surprises is pretty acceptable and used a lot. Will try and use this in future. Thanks


  5. centrino says:

    don´t forget that a risk can have a positive impact, i.e. An opportunity

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