Risks, Benchmarks, and Innovations, what’s the big deal?

Let us imagine risk as a hollow trapezoidal solid floating in space while hundreds in attendance (with varying coordinates in space) observe and try to describe it. Each spectator has a different perspective right from the get-go. An agreement becomes impossible unless each one somehow sees the other person’s perspective.

For risk-based management to work correctly in an organization, management has to be willing to listen. Messengers who bring unwanted but factual news must be appreciated, not placed on a chopping block.

The question often asked is to whom should management listen? How can management be sure they are getting the correct information? No specific answer exists, but a discerning manager can listen to everyone on duty and identify the substance. When everyone sings in the chorus, and one does not, it does not mean he is wrong.

What should be the approach of open-minded management? Should we be worried that a management receptive to new and different ideas or opinions will prevent a risk framework from being effective? We always hear about streamlining a management process as we begin a new project because we want to increase efficiency and productivity.

Streamlining, standardizing processes, and utilizing benchmarks are there to reduce many of the problematic risks that plagued management years ago. They bring repeatability, uniformity, and good quality to the table. However, when one well-meaning risk manager seriously considers it, he might see innovation and creativity as inapplicable to such a system. The very definition of a project being a unique endeavour is set aside. The approach leans towards more on a manufacturing or assembly process. Innovation gradually diminishes if not completely disappears.

Free picture from Pexel by Jonas Togo

Innovative ideas are initiatives that oppose streamlining and standardizing approaches, processes, and methodologies. Innovation and creativity promote change while streamlining and standardization underline fixed benchmarks. If the proponents are not careful, each can undermine the other. The two objectives run in opposite directions.

It is an excellent reminder that management might need a more robust dividing line between stages and processes despite a given structure and an implementation framework.

We often see blurred boundaries that can quickly become grey areas.

Take as an example the blurring of boundaries between public service and private interest in the health profession (Hudson, 2012), between sectors in a national context (LSE/NCVO/ESRC, 2009), in professional identities (Whitchurch, 2009), and in organizational hierarchies (Marchington, M. et al., 2006).

Blurred boundaries should be one of the most summoned risk-based considerations during the assessment process. They are risky and contentious spots where even an intelligent person falls prey to subjective perception and where we tend to make assumptions. It can also be an area of indecision because there’s no clear delineation of responsibilities.

Let me know what you think. What’s your take?

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About the Author

Rufran C. Frago is the Founder of PM Solution Pro, a Calgary consulting, product, and training services firm focusing on project and business management solutions. He is passionate about providing advice, mentorship, education and training through consultation, collaboration, and what he uniquely calls, student-led training.

Our website: www.pmsolutionpro.com


  1. Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective.ISBN 978-0-9947608-0-7.Canada
  2. Plan to Schedule, Schedule to Plan.ISBN 978-0-9947608-2-1.Canada
  3. How to Create a Good Quality P50 Risk-based Baseline Schedule.ISBN 978-0-9947608-1-4.Canada
  4. Schedule Quantitative Risk Analysis (Traditional Method).ISBN 978-0-9947608-3-8.Canada
  5. RISK, What are you? The Risk Management Poem: Children’s Book for all Professionals.ISBN 978-0-9947608-4-5 (Canada)


Grace, The Guardian Angel.ISBN 978-0-9947608-5-2.Canada

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