Project risks are business opportunities

10th November 2017
Rod Nicolson

Every project carries risks, and the more important the project, the more risk you carry – even if a risk’s likelihood is the same, the impact is magnified. But what if we flipped that on its head? What if we treated risks as opportunities to learn, to adapt and to build a better thing? That would mean that the bigger the project, the bigger the risks, the bigger the opportunity.

Here’s how to start seeing risks differently, and help your project deliver remarkable outcomes.

Know why
The foundations of any project are the business goals that generated the need for the project in the first place. These are the project’s bedrock, the touchstone to which the team should always return in order to protect the project from scope creep, or just building the wrong damn thing.

No business is an island
Projects are done for people, not to people. Projects bring change, which should be good, but those impacted by the change are your customers, investors, employees, the public, you… and lack of adoption is a killer risk for each and every project. If you don’t know, or haven’t validated, whether your project is solving a problem that people actually have, you are carrying a dangerous level of risk.

Small bets, short feedback loops
Tackle things that are critical for success early, and use with short iterations with feedback loops hardwired into your process. If you can do both, then address the risks and deliver value at the same time. This will help the team to respond quickly to feedback, and mitigate or avoid the risk of incorrect assumptions.

Radical transparency
Be open, radically so. Open up your showcases to all stakeholders who are interested in your project. Mitigate the risk of unknown risks, late requirements or political roadblocks with radical transparency. You’ll have some interesting and valuable conversations, I guarantee it.

Big Projects. Big Risks?Any project worth doing will carry risk. Download our ebook “Big Projects. Big Risks?” to learn how you can de-risk even the most business-critical projects.

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