Tuesday, January 27, 2009

BRisk Management

In my upcoming Guerrilla Boot Camp class, I have a whole bit on Risk Management vs. Risk Perception. The point being that if you, as the performance analyst/capacity planner in your organization, don't appreciate the perspective of your manager, you are going to find yourself very frustrated when certain of your recommendations seem to fall on deaf ears.

Most managers are employed to look after one thing: schedules. If a manager perceives that your performance recommendation could inflate the schedule, it ain't gonna happen (no matter how sane or realistic it might be). I reinforce this perspective by saying:
Managers will let a project fail. As long as it fails on time!
This may sound a bit melodramatic but here is a statement of precisely that type:
"I can understand people being worked up about safety and quality with the welds," said Steve Heminger, executive director ... "But we're concerned about being on schedule because we are racing against the next earthquake."
This is a quote from an executive manager for the new Bay Bridge currently being constructed between Oakland and San Francisco. A section of the upper deck collapsed on this bridge during the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989.

He's not an IT manager, but he is watching the clock and saying, let's increase the risk that the new bridge will fail (by being brisk about welding inspections), in order to beat the much lower risk that the old bridge might fail again in a quake. Substitute your favorite project, product or application, for the word "bridge" and you get my drift.

Updateof May 2013

The original high-risk Caltrans decision has prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to threaten delaying the scheduled Labor Day opening of the new Bay Bridge span. Erm... so, how did this brisk management decision save time (and money)?

Update of August 16, 2013

The on again, off again, new Bay Bridge opening is on again. As you can probably tell from this KALW piece, there is some skepticism regarding the rationale. [emphasis mine]
"the cracked bolts in the new bridge are apparently better than the totally unsafe old bridge, which wouldn't survive a minor earthquake. ... Experts say the old bridge is extremely unsafe, and won't hold through even a moderate earthquake."
Rubbish! Nothing has really changed significantly on the old bridge structure. This is all about saving political face (and possibly the $20 million contractor bonus). Would I drive the new span? Possibly. But more likely, I'd take BART (via the trans-Bay tube). :)

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