Your project sponsor should never look at you and say, “YOU should’ve seen that coming.” It might be more sensible to say that you don’t want your sponsor to look at YOU and say, “YOU shouldn’t have seen that coming.” And you know that they are right.
If you and your team have done a great job in identifying risks and prioritizing them, and preparing responses to those risks, you will know if it was reasonable to expect something. Some risks are unknown, unknowns, while others are known, unknowns. If you can gather the right people with the right experience, you will be able capture the risks your project may face. As long as you have someone who has been involved with similar projects, it is okay if some of your team members are new. Some risks are beyond your experience level when you’re new. They might seem like ‘unknown unknowns’ to you. As you gain experience, your list of ‘known, unknowns” grows and you begin to understand what could happen along the way to project completion.
When we don’t know what we’re doing, risk is inevitable. Every project we manage is full of unknowns. This could pose a threat to our success, or it could provide us with opportunities.
It is best to imagine your worst-case scenario long before it actually happens. You are not engaging with negative thinking. Instead, you are being strategic. It is best to imagine the best-case scenario long before it actually happens. You are not only wishing, but strategic.
Accept that your project plans may change. Risks that become a reality will be a type you will face. You will need to have answers for the most significant and likely risks. As our opening quote suggests, things will work out the best for you if you have your risk responses ready so you can make the most of what happens. You can see how it works.
Learn all you need to be a successful project risk manager in the pmStudent Project Risk Management course. You can find it here:
The Project Risk Management Course
Yes, you can prepare yourself for the unexpected.