Kill the Risk Manager

Risk Doctor Briefing

Dr David Hillson FIRM, HonFAPM, PMI Fellow



A recent article called “Ten Top Tips for Effective Risk Management” included an interesting idea. Tip number 4 was “Kill the Risk Manager”! But the author was not suggesting that we should go out to commit murder. Instead he was recommending that the job title of Risk Manager should be killed off. Why?

What would you expect a Risk Manager to do? A Risk Manager manages risk of course. But this is both wrong and unhelpful. Everyone should take responsibility for managing their own risks, and not leave it to one person to deal with them all. This fact arises from the way that risk is defined.

All definitions of risk make a clear link between risk and objectives. For example the international risk standard ISO31000:2009 Risk Management – Principles and Guidelines says risk is “effect of uncertainty on objectives”, and the Project Management Institute Practice Standard for Project Risk Management defines risk as “an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on a project’s objectives.”

Wherever objectives exist there are also risks that might affect them. This is why managing risk is so important, because it focuses attention on the uncertainties that matter. Linking risks to objectives helps us to identify uncertain events or conditions that could influence our chances of success. Then we can prioritise these risks and respond proactively, preventing bad things from happening or protecting ourselves in advance from threats, as well as promoting good things and positioning ourselves to take advantage of opportunities.


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Dr. David Hillson


Dr David Hillson CMgr FRSA FIRM FCMI HonFAPM PMI-Fellow is The Risk Doctor (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 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 contributed to the risk discipline over many 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).  David can be contacted at [email protected].