A prophets of doom workshop

In the past I have used some pretty dodgy approaches to defining risks in a project, from formal approaches like fault tree analysis through to informal approaches like “the evil genius” and “an international standard for being scared“.

So this article is not really a new one.  It is more a combination of evil geniuses and international standards for being scared.  But I think this workshop should work well when starting any project and particularly small projects with a simple project charter.

Continue reading “A prophets of doom workshop”

An international standard for being scared?

I sometimes quote ISO90210 (not a real standard) to represent a common approach that, while often used, is not a formally recognised standard.  It is more a common but informal way people approach something. In this case I am looking at how to be scared.  Apparently there is a standard approach to being scared that inolves the amygdalae in our brain and us cheking our big catalogue of things to be scared of when any event happens. But that is a biological response and I am more interested here in a project management response. So here is where I start – … Continue reading An international standard for being scared?

A risk register for lazy project teams

I told someone this article was already up on my blog and then realised I never got around to publishing it. Sorry about that.

Successful projects are generally successful because of the way they managed their risks; so I generally try to hire lucky project managers and surround them with a team of people who have (or are due for) some good karma, in order to avoid having bad things happen on the project.

But sometimes that is not enough, so I like to put in place risk registers, risk and innovation meetings and a bunch of other things to make sure I am managing my risks effectively.

But sometimes that is too much overhead for a small team to bear, so what can the team do that is easy, yet still reasonably effective?

Continue reading “A risk register for lazy project teams”

Unusual risk analysis techniques

I think risk management is really cool … and certainly more fun than the alternative.

Unfortunately many people find the traditional approaches to analysing risks dry and un-innovative; which is a problem because identification and analysis of risk is actually a creative process.

So here are a couple of “unusual” approaches that might work for your team.  Continue reading “Unusual risk analysis techniques”

Risks in IT Operations – some analysis tools

Not long ago an airline (Virgin Blue) had a complete meltdown of their ticketing system and just last week a major Australian bank (NAB) had a full on disaster where they couldn’t pay people money they owed for several days.

Both were apparently due to failures in IT operations (IT systems and IT processes) and both must have been dreadful for those involved.

Continue reading “Risks in IT Operations – some analysis tools”

Risk outrage – look out for falling coconuts

A participant in a workshop alleged that coconuts are more dangerous in some parts of the world than sharks. Apparently he has seen statistics showing that in the South Pacific there are substantially more deaths related to falling coconuts than shark attacks. So at a typical resort by the beach, people will be worried about sharks when in the water, but be quite relaxed about sitting under (a potentially lethal) coconut tree. I guess sharks are a bit  scarier than falling coconuts. Many of us have seen Jaws but nobody has yet agreed to film my script for “Coconut Apocalypse” where a resort tries to cover up … Continue reading Risk outrage – look out for falling coconuts

Questions for project audits – part two

When auditing a project (or taking over a project or even taking on a senior role in a team) I like to go and talk to everyone in the team. When I do, I generally ask them the same questions to get a better feel for what is going on. I really liked a set of questions I picked up from a book called “The First 90 Days”, so I use a modified set of them: What is your role? What does that mean? How would you explain it to my mother? How would others explain what you do? How … Continue reading Questions for project audits – part two

Questions for project audits – part one

I was talking to a colleague recently and promised to share some of the questions I ask when auditing a project (or taking one over). My first question is generally “what is the project about?” But that generally leads to a vague answer.  So I use my “question compass”: These are the questions I use to get a basic orientation when analyzing just about anything.  By way of explanation though, I don’t always use the exact wording shown. When asking “what do you mean” I use a technique that sounds really simple and is surprisingly effective – the “nouns and … Continue reading Questions for project audits – part one

Finally launched my agile training game

We set up a stand at the recent Software Development Conference to run the Agile Release Planning Game I designed. It seemed to go down really well, so I have decided to make the game available publicly if anyone is interested in using it. In the game, participants are a group of scientists and engineers who are stuck on Mars after a “less than successful” landing.  They are on a mission to make scientific discoveries but must now rebuild a basic infrastructure for survival before returning to their original mission. Participants then create a strategy based on rebuilding their ship, … Continue reading Finally launched my agile training game