Threats and Opportunities Don’t Matter …


Crispin (“Kik”) Piney, B.Sc., PfMP

[email protected]


…but problems and advantages do!

This may seem to be a trivial statement, but it does help to provide a new perspective on risk management, and answers some questions that arise in the management of risk – the first ones being: why do it, why spend money, time and effort on addressing something that may never happen? The answer here is that, when carried out correctly, risk management ensures that the investment made to deal with uncertain situations that do not in fact occur is covered several times over by the benefit gained from preparing for – and therefore being able to deal with or take advantage of – the problems and advantages that arise from the occurrence of uncertain events or conditions. This potential end-game therefore justifies the investment in the management of risk.


This paper aims to be provocative in order to get people thinking around the subject of risk management. It does not pretend to provide a definitive answer and, as such, finishes not with a conclusion but with additional points to consider – some of which might invalidate ideas presented earlier in this paper!

The Issue with “issues”

All too many managers are more impressed with the way in which issues are dealt with and tend to ignore (at best) the efforts that are put in to manage the upstream risks. One reason for this is that risk management is seen more as dealing with imaginary situations whereas issues are real, here and now. You never become a hero for ensuring peace.

Now let us examine how issues currently fit in with the process of risk management. In most approaches, unfortunately, they fit in badly, if at all.

“Good” issues

The simple statement that is found in a number of risk management publications is “once a risk occurs, it becomes an issue”. How can we align this with the clear intention of risk management to address both positive and negative events? One way is to take care – as I have above – to use the terms “threat” and “opportunity” rather than “risk”, and to pair these with “problem” and “advantage” rather than with ”issue”. The other – but less intuitive – approach is to take the same approach as for the term “risk” and to say that, in our context, an issue can also be positive (an “advantage”) or negative (a “problem”). Considering the resistance that the double-valued definition of risk has encountered, this approach is unlikely to meet with general acceptance in the short term. In the rest of this paper, however, I will use the term “issue” in this broader sense.

So let us see what happens as a risk becomes an issue. 


To read entire article (click here)

About the Author

pmwj26-sep2014-Piney-AUTHOR IMAGECrispin (“Kik”) Pineyflag-france


South of France


After many years managing international IT projects within large corporations, Crispin (“Kik”) Piney, B.Sc., PgMP is a freelance project management consultant based in the South of France. His main areas of focus are risk management, integrated Portfolio, Program and Project management, scope management and organizational maturity, as well as time and cost control. He has developed advanced training courses on these topics, which he delivers in English and in French to international audiences from various industries. In the consultancy area, he has developed and delivered a practical project management maturity analysis and action-planning consultancy package. He has carried out work for PMI on the first Edition of the Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3™) as well as participating actively in fourth edition of the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge and was also vice-chairman of the Translation Verification Committee for the Third and the Fifth Editions. He was a significant contributor to the second edition of both PMI’s Standard for Program Management as well as the Standard for Portfolio Management. In 2008, he was the first person in France to receive PMI’s PgMP credential; in 2014, he did the same for the PfMP. He is co-author of PMI’s Practice Standard for Risk Management. He collaborates with David Hillson (the “Risk Doctor”) by translating his monthly risk briefings into French. He has presented at a number of PMI conferences and has published formal papers. He can be contacted at [email protected].