Let's Be Careful Out There

Daniel Starr

When it comes to formal processes to manage risks, many organizations go no further than a mandate with spotty enforcement. And so project managers are like motorcycle riders: some protect themselves against accidents that probably won't happen (today), while others won’t be bothered. But accidents will happen. Is your project team ready to ride?

A couple years ago, I wrote an article (“Choosing Your Armor”) that used the metaphor of a soldier's armor to look at the tools and processes we use to protect our processes and selves from the various attacks the world throws at them. It's a useful metaphor, but it's got a problem: the matter of urgency. Soldiers going into battle expect to be attacked, so you don't have to tell them twice to put on their armor. Project work is different. In a project, most things work most of the time. A project's "armor" is there not to give protection from enemy attacks, but to guard against accidents and mistakes, which, if the project is well planned and the team is skilled, are pretty uncommon. In this respect, a project's armor is quite different from that worn by a soldier.
Maybe it's more like the protective gear worn by a motorcycle rider. With gas hitting three bucks a gallon, I've been riding my motorcycle a lot lately. And every time I get on the bike, I face a decision: what protective gear should I put on…

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"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age 18."

- Albert Einstein



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