Elegant Risk: Suit up with a Bow Tie!

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Chapter

Guilherme is a Production Engineer in Rio de Janeiro.

From the dawn of my experience with risk, I have always been puzzled with qualitative analysis. Take a look at a spreadsheet or a system with data from a qualitative analysis. We got dozens of columns, and they can be quite boring to look at. Participating in safety studies, I came across the bow-tie method as a way to understand issues and risks. In this article, I will explore the use of this technique in the project management environment.

Qualitative Risk Analysis…So Underused!
I have written articles on the integration of qualitative and quantitative risk analyses (see the first one here), and I discussed the gap between them. Moreover, qualitative analysis seems like something that does not “live” within the organization. You see people hanging schedules and cost reports on the walls of the office, war rooms and such. You see histograms and tornado diagrams laying around, but you do not see much regarding qualitative risks.

It simply is not visually appealing! The risk register looks something like this:

You will not be able to read it, and that’s okay. However, you should recognize this big table from your latest projects (or a bad dream). Out of sight, out of mind! If we do not have any pleasure looking at a risk register, there is really no engagement. Imagery is important for the project.

Monte Carlo analyses look so good …

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"That rainbow song's no good. Take it out."

- MGM Executive Memo after first showing of The Wizard of Oz