Tuesday, October 1, 2013

About risk perception

“Unfortunately, my King … here I am, unwilling and unwanted … because I know that no one ever welcomes a bearer of bad news.” —Antigone by Sophocles, circa 442 BC 
“It is pardonable to be defeated, but never to be surprised.” —Frederick, the Great
Pedro C. Ribeiro, writing in ASK magazine for NASA, has a nice posting on risk perception. He reports on a study that tells us that nearly 3/4ths of all those that report a risk condition to the PMO feel as they are not heard or listened to.

The messenger of bad tidings is not welcome! Hello! No news there, to be sure!

And, of course, this is all too common:
Postmortem analyses, inquiries, and audits of failed projects often uncover streams of unheeded warnings in the form of letters, memos, e-mails, and even complete reports about risks that were ignored, past lessons not learned, and actions not taken—a failure of leadership that creates the conditions for a “perfect storm” of problems that could and should have been prevented, but nevertheless catch leaders by surprise.
Remember: even Nassim Taleb defines a black swan from the eye of the beholder. What's a calamitous surprise to some may be foreseeable to others.  So, even though the PMO may not be able to see around the next corner, they may be some with extraordinary powers of sight that need to be listened to. Ignore them at your peril!

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