Many books of business advice are published with charts and diagrams and bulleted lists of “takeaways,” so that the advice is clear and compact.


Frank Ryle’s book, Keeping Score: Project Management for the Pros, has charts and illustrations, too.


But it is more in the tradition of Plato, some of whose philosophy is written in the form of dialogues between people with different points of view.


And Ryle has something important to say about risk.


By choosing the dialogue form, no doubt because of his own philosophical bent gained from many hours of competitive golfing, Ryle, a former engineer and project manager for Arup, takes a little bit longer to make his points. But he makes them in more interesting and memorable ways because they are part of a running fictional conversation among members of a golf party, Bob, Louise and Edward.


One of the points he makes emphatically is that issues management is not risk management. Listen closely to Louise. She tells Bob that she sees a problem in the growth of the use of issues logs, a list of points or topics that are in dispute or not settled. 


“I remember a vendor in our place presenting his monthly issues log,’ says Bob. “He had hundreds of issues and, oddly, seemed very proud of it.”


Edward then chimes in, summarizing Louise point that “issues management is not the same as risk management.”


“Exactly,” answers Louise. Having a large number of issues is proof of the absence of a satisfactory approach to risk.  “We could say that ‘issues’ are real fires that require fire fighting, and ‘risks’ are the boxes of matches that potentially start the first in the first place.”


Later on, Louise says that the best risk identification method she has heard is to ask people to list “all the potential ‘excuses’ as to why the project might be late, over budget or might not deliver the goods.”


Another part of the process is to to reduce the unacceptable risks to acceptable ones, based on the sponsors or owners’ tolerance



P. 116


How do you know if you are a risk-taker?