9. Mechanics of Risk Management

“We aren’t really bad at estimating. What we are really bad at is enumerating all the assumptions that lie behind our estimates.”

—Paul Rook1

1Paul Rook, from his keynote on risk management, European Conference on Software Methods, London, October 1994.

An easy test of risk awareness in a project is this: Look through the project plan and ask the manager to indicate any tasks that might not have to be done at all. You may suddenly find yourself on the receiving end of a baffled expression. Put into words, that confused look seems to ask, If a task doesn’t have to be done, why on earth would we ever put it into the plan? You’ve just learned that the plan, in this manager’s view, is the set of all tasks that definitely ...

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