Agile Risk Management

PMI Southern Alberta Chapter

Mike Griffiths is a consultant and trainer who help organizations improve performance through shared leadership, agility and (un)common sense. He maintains the blog LeadingAnswers.com.

This article aims to dispel the myth that agile projects somehow magically mange risks for us, and outlines a couple of practical tools that can be used to start improving risk management approaches.

Agile is not a risk management approach
Some people believe agile approaches—with their short cycles and regular feedback—have a risk management approach naturally built into the process. It is easy to see why—the building blocks and attachment points for plugging in an effective risk management process are certainly present, but unfortunately just building something iteratively or incrementally does not ensure risks are managed.

It is all too easy to develop iteratively, missing opportunities to actively address threats or exploit opportunities. Many agile teams also fail to actively look for risks, discuss and decide on appropriate actions, undertake those actions and reassess the risks—and evaluate if the risk management process is even working.

It’s a shame, because in many ways agile methods provide an ideal framework for introducing effective risk management practices. They have short timeframes, active reprioritization of work, frequent review points, high team member and business engagement in planning, etc. However, similar to having a group of people to help you find something, “a beach-party is not the same as a search party.…

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"The creator of the universe works in mysterious ways. But he uses a base ten counting system and likes round numbers."

- Scott Adams

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