Effective Risk Facilitation: Understanding the Four P’s


Risk Doctor Briefing

Dr David Hillson, PMI Fellow, HonFAPM, FIRM

The Risk Doctor Partnership

United Kingdom


The role of the facilitator is to make things easier for a group of people working together on a common task. This is a difficult job that needs special skills and careful preparation, particularly when facilitating a risk workshop, where the element of uncertainty introduces special challenges. There are two main ways in which a facilitator can make things easier for a group undertaking a risk workshop:

  • Easier than individuals working alone. By helping the group to function effectively together, the facilitator ensures that multiple perspectives are shared openly to provide a common understanding of the risks facing the project.
  • Easier than the group working alone. By taking care of practical elements of the risk workshop, the facilitator can release the group to concentrate on what they are doing, allowing them to dedicate their full attention to identifying and assessing risks, then developing appropriate responses.

To be fully effective, a risk facilitator needs to understand four key areas:

  1. Project. The risk facilitator should be familiar with the project’s characteristics, including:
  • The scope and objectives to be considered during this risk assessment
  • Underlying project assumptions and constraints
  • Current project status, including issues, problems and concerns
  1. Principles. The risk facilitator must clearly understand basic concepts of risk, including:
  • All risks are uncertain, and all risks affect at least one objective if they happen
  • Risk includes both threat and opportunity
  • Risks should be owned by the person or party who owns the affected objective


Editor’s note: This is article one in a four-part series of briefing notes by Dr Hillson on Effective Risk Facilitation. Check back next month for the next article in the series.

To read entire article (click here)



About the Author

Dr. David Hillson

The Risk Doctor



Dr David Hillson CMgr FRSA FIRM FCMI HonFAPM PMI-Fellow is The Risk Doctor (http://www.risk-doctor.com/).  As an international risk consultant, David is recognised as a leading thinker and expert practitioner in risk management. He consults, writes and speaks widely on the topic and he has made several innovative contributions to the field. David’s motto is “Understand profoundly so you can explain simply”, ensuring that his work represents both sound thinking and practical application.

David Hillson has over 25 years’ experience in risk consulting and he has worked in more than 40 countries, providing support to clients in every major industry sector, including construction, mining, telecommunications, pharmaceutical, financial services, transport, fast-moving consumer goods, energy, IT, defence and government. David’s input includes strategic direction to organisations facing major risk challenges, as well as tactical advice on achieving value and competitive advantage from effectively managing risk.

David’s contributions to the risk discipline over many years have been recognised by a range of awards, including “Risk Personality of the Year” in 2010-11. He received both the PMI Fellow award and the PMI Distinguished Contribution Award from the Project Management Institute (PMI®) for his work in developing risk management. He is also an Honorary Fellow of the UK Association for Project Management (APM), where he has actively led risk developments for nearly 20 years. David Hillson is an active Fellow of the Institute of Risk Management (IRM), and he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) to contribute to its Risk Commission. He is also a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and a Member of the Institute of Directors (IOD).

Dr Hillson can be contacted at [email protected].

To see other works previously published in the PM World Journal by Dr David Hillson, visit his author showcase at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/dr-david-hillson/