Project Management Institute

Bolts from the blue

At the core of practicing risk management is the essential truth that unforeseen events are unpredictable and therefore unknowable. Organizations can, however, establish a system that will enable them to manage a threat--or realize an opportunity--when an unforeseen event occurs. This article discusses how project managers can address the risks resulting from the recent global economic downturn. In doing so, it overviews the current risk environment that is affective both public and private sector organizations worldwide; it describes the new way of thinking about risks and risk management that is affecting how project professionals can best prepare for unforeseeable events. It then explains how project managers--and the program and portfolio managers who oversee them--can improve their ability to communicate and coordinate risk responses and work with other line managers when addressing the organizational risks that either directly or indirectly affect a particular project. It summarizes the techniques that organizations and project professionals commonly use to identify and categorize risks. Accompanying this article are two sidebars: The first looks at how companies worldwide are confronting their lack of experienced project leaders; the second lists the World Economic Forum's top-twenty global risks for 2010.
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