Risk: Why Ability Matters

Ok. Humour me for a moment. Bear with me. I will make a point eventually. Honest.

One of the things I do to relax is climb. To be fair it’s not always that relaxing so perhaps I should describe it as “one of the things I do”. Anyway, semantic arguments aside, here is a clip of me soloing a short climb in the Peak District:

Watched it? Great. Now take a look at Dan Osman climbing up some sunny Californian rock, also unroped:

It kind of makes my climb look rather tame to say the least doesn’t it? And yes I’ve gone from feeling like a hyper brave super-man-like-climbing-demon to more of a…well…Clark Kent.

So now the point (I did promise I’d make one didn’t I?)…

Many non-climbers would consider my climb risky. And I would admit that if you fell from it you would be likely to sustain a serious injury that could be fatal.

I look at Dan Osman’s climb and consider it risky. Falling from anywhere after the first 50m would almost certainly land you at St Peter’s gate trying to explain what you had been trying to achieve by being so silly.

Now, given that both climbs have a high risk of injury or death should you fall from them, what really defines how risky they are is how likely you are to fall off. And, given that no ropes are involved, this is basically determined by how good you are at climbing.

The same applies to any project: how good the team working on the project is determines how risky the project will be. I suppose this is obvious but it is something that I had not really considered before. It also means that all the following can potentially be used to de-risk a project:

  • Training/professional development
  • Practice projects (mini projects designed mainly to improve a team’s knowledge/ability to work together)
  • Team building
  • Buying in external skills/knowledge

Furthermore it also means that hiring the best people to work on your team is not only important for getting the most done, at the highest quality and in the shortest period of time. It also increases your ability to predict and control project outcomes by reducing the overall level of risk.


1 comment so far

  1. Benjamin on

    Good point well made. Baby steps before a big walk! Businesses manage risks in the strangest (and least effective) ways sometimes. The right ways are obvious when you see them.

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