Home » Change Management » Project Manager Are We Really Managing Both Risk And Change?

“In speaking with several project managers, Scrum Masters and tool providers, it seems that the key to successful agile adoption is to change the corporate culture.”  Agile Tools, Victoria Reitano, SD Times, Dec 2011.

Project Manager Are We Really Managing Both Risk And ChangeI always love these kind of quotes.  They capture a simple universal truism in a bullet point.  I always like to reword them a bit.  I usually take out the specific term and put in a general one:

“In speaking with several project managers, methodology masters and tool providers, it seems that the key to successful technology adoption is to change the corporate culture.”

After some decades of being in the technology world, I’ve concluded that project management consists of change management and risk management.  Everything else is an application of these two concepts.   Risk management will decide if we lean towards an agile approach or a waterfall approach for example.  Change management will guide us on how to encourage learning and adopting the new behaviors that we need people to use on the project or how to adopt and benefit by the new way of doing business the project implements.

Victoria goes on to quote that “tools won’t necessarily make you agile, the lack of tools could hinder the adoption process.”   While I personally love tools, this kind of statement makes me uneasy.  It hints that to be safe, we should really go out and buy those tools, just in case.  This kind of approach, some call it FUD for sowing fear, uncertainty and doubt, is used to sell all sorts of things: vitamins, insurance, security systems, etc. It hints that the lack of these could have some potential consequences, without ever being able to show evidence of real risks let alone a general problem that needs to be addressed.  Similarly, my wife often drives me crazy by suggesting we need to do something because at least one person in the world has encountered situation “X” or malady “Y.”  And yes, there is a commercial or doctor or expert on a talk show who keeps mentioning it.  In neither case do we have a good risk assessment to support the often urgently suggested change.

Managing risk and managing change are core disciplines of the project manager.  Keeping both of these firmly in mind while managing our projects will help ensure that we continue to do the right things in the right manner.  Go ahead and buy those tools because they can dramatically boost your team’s productivity.  Just ensure we are choosing tools that objectively complement the risk assessment and change strategy needed for our project to succeed.

How do you ensure good use of both risk and change management in your project?

Thank you for sharing!

2 thoughts on “Project Manager Are We Really Managing Both Risk And Change?

  1. Bruce Benson says:

    Comments from around the web:

    Don McAlister • Risk Mangement and Change Management are intimately interdependent. All risks are managed with respect to the particular contexts that defined them. Change, whether planned or unplanned can modify those contexts and thus impact the risks themselves and their associated management plans. So all risks must be re-evaluated in the face of change and all changes must be evaluated for risks.

    Bruce Benson • Don, Yes, like so many techniques and approaches they need to integrate and work with each other — none can be done independently if we aim for the best results.

    A couple of others that are similar:
    Plan some, execute some, plan some, execute some …
    Learn a little, experience a little, learn a little, experience a little …

    There is a balance and each impact the other and how the other is done.

    Good reminder, thanks.


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