Interview with Wilhelm Kross (part 2). Talking about risk: Interview with Wilhelm Kross

Wilhelm KrossRecently, I spoke with Dr Wilhlem Kross, a risk expert, about risk communication and the challenges project managers face when discussing risk. Here’s the second part of that interview. Wilhelm and I discuss how project managers can communicate risk best on their projects.
Wilhelm, you mentioned how people sometimes communicate about risk by giving the least amount of information possible to avoid scaring off stakeholders. How can project managers communicate the message of risk effectively and still be considered credible?
It is important for project managers to be aware of certain facts regarding risk communication. Transparency and impartiality are as important as the results. The truth about residual risk and management measures must be disclosed openly and honestly. It will soon become apparent.
Avoid inconsistent and unsystematic approaches for risk analysis. The current paradigm shift in risk communication is that everyone needs to abandon rigid bureaucratic templates for reactive reporting.
This sounds like a great change. What about other tools like the ones for modeling? They can help.
Inappropriate use of tools, such as short-term evaluation tools to make long-term prognoses, should be avoided. This will increase distrust. Managerial biases must be identified and managed.
The legal department’s guidance, when and if it is needed, must be balanced against the benefits and disadvantages of stakeholder risk perception that may be caused by a restrictive or unbalanced communication strategy.
Stakeholders, and especially the target audiences for risk-related communication, need to be aware of the fact that they may lack skills and have not received formal education or training. This may require project managers to compensate.
Okay, use tools to support your arguments with caution. Are project managers able to avoid subjective assessments?
No. No.
This could lead to the need for multiple feedback loops and a plan for iterations. Last but not least, affordability of risk analysis and risk-management approaches can be a problem. The ‘appropriate level’ of detail is often unclear when risk analytics are first used.
The project manager might need to answer the question of whether the risk management effort was worthwhile and whether the management of risk and opportunity resulted in tangible added value.
What does a good risk communicator do then?
Risk communicators are focused on their target audience, i.e. Who needs to decide what to get them where they want to be? Risk communicators use the right language, set the context and seek to align their goals with higher-ranking decision makers. They use strategic marketing communication techniques to plan their risk communication.
They use intelligent risk communication to boost their career and create opportunities. They speak the language of decision makers, become well-known for it, and establish their brand and unique selling propositions. They are ready to learn more than just project management skills if necessary.
What are your tips for project managers when talking to stakeholders about risks?
The project manager should outline what she or he wants, and then focus communication on the specific audiences. The ideal goal and objectives of the project manager are to first define them.
Then, identify