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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 7

Identify all the relevant sources of uncertainty, response options and conditions

Zaphod . . . put on the sunglasses . . . They were a double pair of Joo Janta 200 Super Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses, which had been specially designed to help people develop a relaxed attitude to danger. At the first hint of trouble they turn totally black and thus prevent you from seeing anything that might harm you.

—D. Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

Most common practice approaches to project ‘risk’ management emphasize a need to identify ‘risks’ early in each linear process application, leaving response identification until later, as part of a ‘risk reduction’ task. Uncertainty identification beyond events is not addressed. Identification of assumptions to be treated as conditions is not part of the process, because unbiased estimation is not a formal goal. Risk management has limited goals – risk reduction in terms of stopping bad things happening is the primary motive. In our terms this involves using an event uncertainty management process (EUMP) which is not a suitable starting place for understanding PUMPs.

The PUMP approach addresses the identification of relevant sources of uncertainty and response options in a closely coupled manner – in part because unidentified responses are a source of ambiguity uncertainty. Effects or consequences viewed in qualitative terms are part of the glue between sources and responses. For example, some sources involve potential ...

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