Course C: Managing project opportunities and risk in new ways

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Why uncertainty management can be a much better approach than risk management

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Course vision

Project risk management has been evolving rapidly. It is now being reframed in important ways, with widespread repercussions for everyone involved. For example:

  • A threat focus has become an ‘opportunity’ focus, with a view to taking more risk to improve profit expectations, when appropriate, and to support further optimisation to improve ‘value’.
  • Multiple pass process emphasis has led to the development of simple ‘minimum clarity’ first pass approaches to size uncertainty prior to deciding whether or not further action is required, which demonstrably make some conventional approaches redundant.
  • Adding complexity to the analysis structure whenever doing so is useful, is now facilitated by a clear understanding of ‘maximum clarity’ approaches which challenge the received wisdom of some basic decision analysis, portfolio theory and discounted cash flow economics.
  • Building proactive uncertainty management into capital investment appraisal, bidding and contract design is increasingly seen as fundamental.

Good management of project opportunity and risk cannot be achieved by adopting any simple off-the-shelf techniques. It needs careful thought, effort, a sound general conceptual framework and the recognition of key issues in each individual case. This course provides the basic concepts and tools.


Training methods
Capitalising on the experience of course participants and sharing experience will be an important aspect of group sessions. Group sessions will also allow participants to confront difficult practical issues. Plenary sessions will draw on the re-titled and extensively re-written third edition of a highly regarded book which the course instructor co-authored – “How to Manage Project Opportunity and Risk – Why uncertainty management can be a much better approach than risk management”. Copies of this book will be provided for course participants. ISBN 978-0-470-68649-2


Training objectives
As a participant you will learn to:

  1. Understand the concepts of a “clarity efficient” uncertainty management approach. Not being simplistic, allowing the introduction of further complexity whenever this is worthwhile, is crucial. So is avoiding framing assumptions which are restrictive. Obtaining unbiased estimates is one useful example context.
  2. Persuade colleagues to abandon widely used counter-productive concepts and tools. Understand why some “common practice” is not “best practice”, such as the risk management (probability-impact) matrix.
  3. Sell uncertainty management in terms of the benefits which can be provided by the new processes and perspectives. How to clarify why new ideas are useful is crucial.
  4. Embed the new processes and concepts in an organisation, avoiding the problems. Encourage everyone to ask the right questions and ensure decisions are approximately right rather than precisely wrong, with everyone motivated to seek the same objectives.

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Chris Chapman

Emeritus Professor
of Management Science
in the School of Management
of the University of Southampton and
Senior Associate
of The Nichols Group,
United Kingdom

Guest speaker:

ea-Jesper-SchreinerJesper Garde Schreiner

Senior Consultant,
Fangel Consulting, Denmark