Archive for category Risk

Leadership – It’s Like Riding a Motorcycle

First, leadership is about “leading people, not managing things”.  If you doubt this, answer this question – “have you ever tried to manage your spouse?” Right.

Recently, I read several articles, blog posts and replies regarding leaders and leadership.  They all try to express what attributes, or set of attributes, a leader must have to be successful – what I call the “leadership how(s)”.  All in all they attempt to identify and define the ‘X’ number of most important attributes of successful leaders.  Although leadership attributes are important,  I have found that there are many leadership attributes, and sets of attributes called styles, and no single set of attributes or styles guarantees success because the situation(s) leaders or leadership teams face in their organizations, and their organization’s maturity are different from others.

However, I have found that ALL successful leaders, or leadership teams, provide the same four “leadership whats” for their organization(s).  A leader is like a motorcycle rider and provides the same four “whats”. The motorcycle rider: – (1) pilots the cycle in a specific direction(s); (2) delivers thrust/power to move the cycle in that direction; (3) manages risks of piloting the cycle; and (4) makes changes in the cycle’s direction, thrust and risk based on current and anticipated situations/changes.  Now substitute organization for motorcycle/cycle, and leader, or leadership team, for rider.  If a leader(s) fails to provide any of these four “whats”, the chances of the leader or organization being successful are slim to none.  Successful leaders provide their organization(s) with the proper direction(s), and the right amount of thrust, while allowing appropriate calculated risk taking.  And then they have the courage to make changes when an organization’s situation(s) changes.





Leaders need to understand and focus on the “whats” which can be broken down into finer and finer specifics which I will address in the next set of discussions.

The Elephant in YOUR Project – Part 3 Risks

Project Risks

Project Risks



The Elephant in YOUR Project – Part 3 Risks

Many project managers use complexity and risk synonymously.  They are related, but not the same. Project risks are qualitative and quantitative issues or events which could lead to negative consequences.  Risks can be prevented, mitigated, or repaired if they become an issue. Increased project complexity does not create risks, but increases the severity and impacts of each risk on the project efforts.

Your project risks can be weighted and objectively measured.  A project’s risk and be grouped into five categories:

  1. People/Team Risks – morale, skills and experience, staffing, contractor capability, etc.
  2. Process Risks – scope creep, project management, project planning, project controls, scheduling, etc.
  3. Technology Risks – technology quality, technology newness, expectations versus requirements, etc.
  4. Finance/Budget Risks – budget approval, budget adequacy, scope changes, reporting, etc.
  5. Legal Risks – contract negotiations, contract management, terms and conditions, etc.

Once identified, risks management and reporting is the responsibility of the project sponsor and project manager(s).  Risk prevention, mitigation and repair are the responsibility of all project team members as assigned by the project manager(s).  Each significant risk should be formally reported and tracked in every project status report, and discussed effectively with the project steering committee.

So is your project a House of Cards, or are you managing project risks effectively?


For a free example of a Project Complexity Assessment and Project Risks Management Tool, download at:

Palomino Free Downloads


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The Elephant in Your Project – Part 1

The Elephant In Your Project

The Elephant In Your Project


The Elephant in Your Project – Part 1

The high ‘failure’ rates of IT and business projects have been documented for over four decades by numerous studies and publications.  The Standish Group International reported in 2001 that around 23% of projects are failures, and 49% are ‘challenged’.  Doing the math indicates that only around 28% of projects meet their expectations.  A more recent IBM study in 2008, Making Change Work, indicated that on average 41% met all expectations and 59% missed one or more expectations, or failed completely.  Even worst news from IBM was that companies that were ‘novices at projects for change” had only 8% of projects that met all expectations.  Houston we have a problem!

My experience indicates one of the primary reasons, or the Elephant in Your Project, for these continued poor results is the lack of formal project complexity assessment and aggressive risk management – a responsibility of the project sponsor and project manager.  The IBM study, only one of a few, also indicated that the lack of recognizing the project’s complexity was a major factor in a project’s success or failure.  Yet only 18% indicated their efforts fully addressed project complexity and risk.

Every project, IT or business, is a process – a process with varying degrees of complexity.  A process’s complexity: defines, qualitatively and quantitatively, the relative difficulty, time consumption, resource requirements and skill requirements necessary to successfully complete.  The more complex the process or project – the more difficult, time consuming, resources intensive and more experienced skills are required.

Many project managers use complexity and risk synonymously – but they are not.  A project risks:  are qualitative and quantitative issues or events which could lead to negative consequences.  Increased project complexity increases a risk’s possible impact.  Risks can be prevented, repaired if they become an issue or mitigated.  Complexity is not an event and is harder or impossible to prevent, repair or mitigate once the project begins.

So why do most project sponsors and managers do a lousy job of complexity assessment and risk management?  A few reasons are:

Lack of awareness, skills, training and/or experience

Internal politics

Lack of formal assessment/ management process that is consistent and repeatable

Lack of assessment/management reporting and tools


Part 2 will discuss more on assessing complexity and Part 3 will discuss risk management.


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