The Risk is Still There

Once upon a time, I came across a neat risk assessment add-on for MS Project.

I downloaded it for a free trial and well before the end of the trial was convinced that it was a good tool. Using Monte-Carlo simulation, the program would generate all possible scenarios for the project and give a pretty visual picture of what may go wrong, and how bad it’s going to be.

What I liked in particular was that the software offered an opportunity to figure out how much effort is required (man-hours, additional hardware, etc.) to mitigate the risk.

At the time, Palisade Corporation was young and the price I negotiated for our PMO would warrant a psychiatric assessment of their salesman who had offered it.

To my complete disappointment, our check signer was not impressed with my enthusiastic presentation and refused to pay. His feedback: “What’s the purpose of this software? The risk is still there!” His thinking was so blatantly unwise that I could not but agree. The biggest risk for the company was having him on board, and the new software would not mitigate it. (No, I didn’t say that: why taking on more risk?).

Palisade @Risk software is now over 30 years old and still going strong.

But apparently, the risk is still there. At a recent meeting with a group of senior managers, we discussed ways to achieve a step change in their businesses’ performance through the “soft” factors – people and processes. Their feedback: “Nice ideas, but we need a tangible takeaway, like some tool that we could apply right away – and get immediate results.”

Right, why waste your time on risk assessment or – worse – on building a nebulous company culture, when all you need is a hack? Check Home Depot, they may have some on special.

No, I didn’t say that either. But is it just me, or this is a universal tendency now – looking for Life Hacks instead of working towards Excellence?