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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 9

Clarify ownership

It is an equal failing to trust everybody and to trust nobody.

—18th-century English proverb.

Making sure that every relevant source of uncertainty and response option has an appropriate owner is recognized as basic good practice – in principle. In practice this worthy ambition is rarely achieved. One obvious reason is a failure to identify particular sources of uncertainty and response options early enough in the project lifecycle. A second reason is a failure to implement an effective allocation of ownership to the parties involved in a project which works for both identified and unidentified sources of uncertainty and response options. A third reason is a failure to achieve an alignment of objectives of the relevant parties. A fourth is a failure to identify key relationships between sources of uncertainty, response options and the alignment of objectives which later prove to be important. The latter may be due to perverse incentives to ignore sources of uncertainty and response options associated with some objectives as a result of excessively strong incentives on other objectives. All four reasons involve uncertainty management process failures, and all four are the concern of the PUMP ownership phase. They can be seen as a hierarchy to some extent, and they are worth consideration separately and jointly.

Failures of uncertainty management associated with the allocation of ownership tend to arise because an ‘ownership phase’ is not recognized explicitly, ...

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