Risk Escalation

Known globally as The Risk Doctor, David has been working in risk management for about 30 years. He has worked in 48 countries on every continent except the Antarctic (too cold!), with clients in most industries.

When a risk does not affect project objectives but could still impact another part of the organization, it should be “escalated” to the appropriate owner to ensure that it is recognized, understood and managed. Here is an overview of this key risk response strategy in practice.

Risk response strategies help us to focus our risk treatment efforts. With a small number of strategy options to choose between, deciding on a preferred strategy allows us to concentrate on developing specific actions to implement that strategy and manage the risk in the desired way.

Early on, when risk management was limited to addressing threats, we had four alternative strategies: Avoid (remove the threat completely), Transfer (find a third party who can manage the threat on our behalf), Reduce (make the probability and/or impact smaller), and Accept (take no proactive action, but prepare a contingency plan in case the threat occurs).

Later, when we realized that risk includes both threats and opportunities, four matching strategies were developed for opportunities: Exploit (ensure that the opportunity definitely occurs), Share (involve a third party in managing the opportunity), Enhance (increase the probability and/or impact), and Accept (no proactive action, but a contingency plan in case the opportunity occurs).

Recently an additional risk response strategy has been defined, which we can…

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