you're crossing your fingers and just hoping too much. And the reason you do that is because somebody, let me give you an example of how you got in that position, where you didn't consider something that happened to most projects in the past; you never considered the possibility that it might happen on your project. People leaving, for instance, in the middle of the project. How could you ever not have a plan for that? How could you ever not work that into your plan?
Well, let me give you an example. Your boss has just come to you, Carol, and said, "We need this new backbone system in two years." You've been privately saying it would take six people three years to do it, and they are suggesting you do it with four in two years. And they say, "We absolutely have to have it in two years, in fact, there's a good chance that we are going to have to have it in eighteen months." And then finally they come back and say, "Yeah, that's it, eighteen months and with the four of you and that's it." And they say, "Only you can pull this off. We're really counting on you because it's really important." Now, you're looking at your project plan and you're saying, "Well, should we expect that of the four people at least one of them is going to leave over the course of the eighteen months?" Should we? I mean that is a pretty likely probability, but your inclination is to look at this whole thing and say, "Well, hell, eighteen months is barely doable anyway. If I'm gonna succeed, I've gotta catch some breaks along the way, and one of the breaks I've gotta catch is my key people don't leave." Now, look what's happened, you have made the catching of breaks along the way an integral part of your project plan; that's how you end up not doing risk management, and it's because you are so challenged that you know that luck is going to break for you in order for you to succeed. It puts you in the completely wrong mode for dealing with risks.
CAROL: Now, why do you think we try and avoid risk? Is it just an inherently human thing to...is it kind of like people don't get insurance because they don't want to think about actually dying, so they don't get insurance? Is that the same type of thing that goes on, that we just avoid risks because if we don't think about them, maybe they'll never happen.
TOM: Well, let's...let's take that in two parts. You're talking about why do people avoid risk management, and then, but the way you said it, is why do they avoid risk. There are actually two totally different things that go on in the course of a project. One, is that people avoid thinking about the awful possibilities, that's exactly what you said, they don't do risk management, which is the equivalent of not having insurance to protect your family if you drop dead, because you yourself are too gutless to think about the possibility of your own demise. But, then, there is also something that people call risk avoidance, and since you used that term, you said avoid risk, I want to talk about that as well.
Risk avoidance is entirely different. It says, "Don't do a risky thing." And very often people would assert having not thought about it for too long, that the proper approach to risk is risk avoidance. The problem with that is the