I have, for many years, been involved with business projects. Some small, some huge, some amazingly smooth, ands others, well, less so!
One of the things I’ve found interesting is how poorly thought through their views of risks are, and for many of those those that had a bumpy ride, the yawning void between the risks identified in the plan and what transpired. Very few considered risks that could double the cost and timescale, or indeed cause the work to be abandoned.
What do I suggest – Adopt a black mood, and push it. Walk to the edge of the abyss and stare down, contemplating how deep and jagged it is, and how bad the consequences of falling in would be. Immerse yourself in how the project might go horribly wrong. Imagine how you would feel as people point out what you missed or didn’t want to see. This sounds pretty negative, and I have at points been accused of looking for ways that things can fail … correctly, as it happens. But that absolutely, completely misses the point.
The intent is not negative. It is only by really understanding the consequences and likelihood of various failures that you can determine where to put your defences, and how solid you need to make them. But, psychology is typically against us here. Many risk reduction efforts are stymed by innate biases in how we think that tends to make us anchor our views on what we think will happen. We tend to think of small variations, and risks only occurring one at a time. We tend to be optomistic. We tend to miss the huge stuff. So, by wargaming how bad it could get, by starting by assuming real disaster then working out how it could occur, by looking into the abyss, it is possible to get past the bias. That is what allows you to aim high and have a decent chance of hitting it. Or you could just hope to get lucky, or get away with explaining why the failure wasn’t your fault.