You’ll have much better project reviews if they understand this difference. You can only assign a level of risk if you know the probability of an unfavorable event, e.g., 40% chance of a thunderstorm. It’s pointless—even misleading—to assign probabilities of success, net present values, and so forth in a project’s early phase. That comes later, after your team drives dozens of assumptions from uncertainty to certainty. The methodology for doing this isn’t difficult: Check out this 2-minute video at Why risk and uncertainty are different.
More in video, Project de-risking with Minesweeper® software
You know this 2×2 matrix: Projects in familiar markets & technologies are in the lower-left corner… the “core.” Most companies think projects outside this core are “risky.” But you can’t assign a level of “risk” because that requires assigning a probability of failure. And you simply don’t know enough to do this. All you can say is you are “uncertain.” Good news: Uncertainty can be resolved by laying out all your assumptions and investigating each to drive it to certainty.
To see how this is done, view the video at Project De-risking with Minesweeper
If you manage one new-product project, it seems less risky to develop a “me-too.” But if you manage a business brimming with “me-too” and incremental new products, you’ll slide into commoditization with its death spiral. Very risky. So make sure your portfolio has enough products that will deliver significant value to your customers.
Read more in this free white paper, Innovating in Unfamiliar Markets (page 3).
If you’re asked to cross an unfamiliar chasm, would it be risky? Hard to say. Until you learn if you’ll face a bridge or a tightrope, you can’t assess risk (probability). You’re just uncertain. Many companies fear risk in an unfamiliar market, when they should map out a plan to reduce uncertainty. This is especially easy to do in B2B markets.
More in white paper, Innovating in Unfamiliar Markets (pages 2-3).