“The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.”
— Theodore Rubin
You might recognize this as a reminder of the importance of risk management. You know that things do not always go smoothly. Why be surprised when issues arise, when instead you can be prepared when issues arise?
There is an art and a science to risk management. Part of the art has to do with understanding your organization and from a cultural perspective how your organization approaches risk management. Too often I have encountered groups who perceived the early identification of risks as negative thinking. If you work in such an environment, the challenge you face is how to discuss and plan for risks without being labeled as negative or perceived as unsupportive. Even if you work with people who think brainstorming what could happen on this project (remember it could be a threat or an opportunity) shows a lack of faith, you still need to move forward. The same people who tell you to stop worrying and to stop thinking things will not go as planned are the first people to look at you when issues arise. They are the first people to say, “You are the project manager, what is your plan?” Telling them “I have no plan because you do not believe in risk management” is not going to fly. Identify risks and be prepared. Walk around thinking, “What could happen?” During status meetings and other conversations, ask your team, “What could happen?”
When you see people around you and their projects are going well and it looks like they have no problems, you might be tempted to think they are lucky. You might think they have all of the easy projects. They are not lucky, they do not have all of the easy work, they are smart. You can be too.