Kendrick discusses the fact that the Panama Canal presented risks that Ferdinand de Lesseps never anticipated. He thought he could dig his way across Panama as he had dug his way across Egypt. What problems in identifying and managing risk does de Lesseps exemplify? Do you think that a previous failure is a help to a person taking on the project at a later time (in this case, Roosevelt)? Explain?
Lack of planning and the creation of a blueprint of the process that is to be taken during the project proper is specifically assumed by de Lesseps. Due to the fact that his concentration was more on how to please his ‘commercial sponsors’, his desire to create the canal has become rather compromised. In conditions like this, it could be understood how the concentration of the project manager becomes easily distracted as the desires of other parties involved becomes highly distinguishable in directing where the project is headed.
Learning from the mistakes of the first one who handled the case-project, Roosevelt knew what pitfalls he should avoid. In this case, it was easier for him to decipher the wrong from the correct decisions. What makes his position more efficiently handled compared to that of Lesseps is the fact that he already knew what failures the latter manager took into account hence letting him work around the situation and create a better path for his team as they complete the project for the sake of the American military force.
What do you think of Smith and Merritt’s concept of “putting out fires” as the antithesis of risk management? Explain this concept. Then tell what these authors mean when they say that in reality, firefighters do participate in risk management. What aspects of risk management does this highlight?
First and foremost, risks are anticipated negative results from any type of decisions. Each decision has its own consequences. Notably, not all consequences are good even though the decisions are good. The anticipation of such negative results shall make it easier for project managers to set aside alternative routes that the teams could take in case the emergencies do happen. The concept of putting out fires is actually based on the fact that one actually knows where the fire might start, and from there, specific options and operations are considered to make sure the fire does not start and if it does, it could be contained immediately.
Illustratively, the firefighters do the same thing when they engage in work. When putting out fires, they do not only hose down water on the buildings and structures that are already on fire. Instead, they hose down water on those that are not yet afflicted by the fire so as to reduce the growth or the damage that the fire is to make. The containment of the fire’s growth makes it easier for them to finish the job on the structures and buildings that have actually caught the damages brought about by the incident. This condition highlights the need of the project managers to see more than what the eyes can perceive. Thinking of what might likely happen could allow project managers to create ‘cushion plans’ that could serve as alternatives for particular emergencies and risks that may occur in the future.
Identifying and Managing Project Risk. Chapter 1: Why Project Risk Management/ Chapter 2: Planning for Risk Management.