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How to Manage Project Opportunity and Risk: Why uncertainty management can be a much better approach than risk management by Stephen Ward, Chris Chapman

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Chapter 1

Uncertainty in and around projects

I keep six honest serving men, they taught me all I knew; their names are what and why and when and how and where and who.

—Rudyard Kipling

Uncertainty management as addressed in this book is concerned with clarifying all relevant aspects of opportunity, uncertainty and risk in all projects. In a plain English sense at a basic level:

uncertainty’ means ‘lack of certainty’,

risk’ means ‘possible unfavourable outcomes’,

opportunity’ means ‘possible favourable outcomes’.

These three definitions are both basic and general, in the sense that they are consistent with all definitions in widely used dictionaries (Oxford Concise, 1995, for example). They are nominal definitions in the sense that readers can use their own comparable plain English alternatives if they wish – we do not want to open a book with counterintuitive definitions that inhibit colloquial use of words. More specifically, we do not want to inhibit richer or more specific colloquial interpretations, such as ‘an opportunity is usefully seen as an occasion when it is relatively easy to achieve what you want’, and ‘risk is usually associated with problems and danger’. However, it is crucial to avoid the morass soon encountered if simple common practice technical definitions are used. The three definitions provided above are basic default definitions, in the sense that they will serve if the reader is unclear about an unrestrictive basic plain English interpretation.

These ...

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