Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Everything I Needed to Know about Risk Management, I Learned from my Kid's Daycare

Was picking up my kids at their after-school daycare early this evening, when I noticed a sign on their wall. It was titled "Emergency Response" and had a list of awful things that you'd never want to have happen to your kid, and how to handle them. My guess is that there is a state law that if a daycare that wants to maintain certification it needs to have a sign posted publicly that details what the response would be if say, a child were to -
  • choke on something
  • start vomiting or show flu symptoms
  • burn themselves on a stove (especially at an in-home daycare)
Even though I didn't want to think about any of these things happening to my children or anyone else's child at the daycare, I was comforted by seeing that these problems were recognized and addressed with a solution.

Posting this information in a public, central location seemed to me to be the perfect way to handle project risks. At the beginning of a project the team should meet to brainstorm on the 'Perfect Storm' - What are all the possible things that can go wrong and how are we going to handle them? This information should be shared with stakeholders and referenced/updated on a regular basis. The thing with risk management is that nobody wants to think about any of these things actually happening, everyone wants to be an optimist, and it's up to the project manager to be a pessimist and force the team to think of the worst case scenarios. Including this process of thinking through the risks and coming up with solutions should put people at ease, knowing that there is a plan in place to handle anything that comes their way. And even more so, posting the information in a public area will help to remind everyone that yes these risks are out there but we are prepared for them if and when they present themselves.