Management ≠ prevention

An acquaintance of mine was employed as a risk manager on a project and like any good professional doing that job, identified the likely risks and mitigation strategies the team would employ. Later in the project, one of the previously-identified risk events occurred and was addressed in the way that was planned. The client took my acquaintance aside and said,

“How did this happen? I hired you so that we wouldn’t run into this situation!”

Isn’t it amazing how differently particular words can be understood?

When appended to a word like “time”, the understanding seems clear – time management can only mean how we deal with time, so in general terms how we influence or maintain control over time.

Substitute a word like “risk” or “change” into the same phrase, and people can choose to interpret it differently. Some appear to think that risk or change management means, “How can we stop these events from occurring?”

Listening is touted these days as a must-have skill. Agreed, absolutely, but just listening is not enough. We have to pay attention to how we interpret what we hear and ensure that everyone has a common understanding of what was said.


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