‘anxieties’ not risk logs & status reports

I have never worked on or seen a project that has an effective risk management practice. I have read a lot of theory, seen a lot of people attempt ‘theory’ in practice and have tried any number of risk/issue log approaches. I have heard a lot of project managers say that they have risk management in place, IMO they are wrong as the process is not effective.

Effective risk management is a mind set for the team, much more than a process that can be applied. It can be promoted and the team educated, but it has to grow and take root throughout the development team.

Weekly or projects status reports… a great waste of time for all involved.

In the project that I am working on at the moment, we are using a simple weekly process that was created to replace both the status report and the risk log. Each project manager spend ~30 minutes to write down everything that they are anxious about. By focusing on anxiety, we cover all aspects of the project and a wide range of subjects. Each manager’s perspective brings different things out, and tends to open out communication and issues of understanding more effectively than risk analysis.

Every anxiety listed, should have actions that the project manager will do to alleviate their own anxiety. The emphasis is on what they can do to deal with the anxiety and the underlying cause.

We have adopted a weather forecasting theme for these reports to help create a different feeling. A summary forecast at the top of the page indicating the likely conditions over the coming months. A few simple sentence, usually in the style of a weather forecast has proven to be more inciteful than any status report.

e.g. sunnypartialtwister

And each anxiety is rated in terms of severity of weather condition. We have found that weather forecasts are a simple and evocative way to characterise risks.

e.g. risk1 risk 3

The report is sent to a small distribution list, and not widely distributed to encourage honesty and openness about communication & relationships.

This process works well on our large but informal team, it may not work so well in a very formal environment.

Anxiety is to risk, what perception is to reality – it doesn’t matter if something is real or not, if it is perceived to be real… it may as well be real.


Comments »

  1. MJ said

    Great idea.
    Great focus on getting the right items discussable, with the right information coming from the bottom of a team hierarchy, instead of reporting on what the “top” thinks is important, which the top couldn’t know.

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