Risk Identification Methods

  • Posted on February 19, 2010
  • Category Misc

Here are some of the techniques used for Risk Identification

Brainstorming Technique.

Most people are familiar with this process, and many have had disappointing results. In brainstorming a facilitator briefs the meeting attendees and asks the participants of the meeting to name risks that they think could occur in the project. The facilitator encourages the participants to name any risk they can think of, even ones that seem silly, and makes a list of the risks on a board or flip chart. What happens in brainstorming is that the ideas of one person generate new ideas from another person, and a kind of chain reaction takes place, producing the identification of many ideas about risk.

There are some problems with brainstorming that will affect the success you have with the technique. The main problem is that unless you have an excellent facilitator, there will be minimum participation from the attendees and few risks will be identified. This problem is even worse when there is a large difference in the status of the individuals attending. A person who is the supervisor of some of the participants may intimidate them or dominate the meeting.

Delphi Technique.

This technique of group dynamics eliminates the problem of dominance, shyness, or intimidation that sometimes occurs in brainstorming meetings. In the Delphi technique the participants are anonymous to each other. This technique can be conducted with Internet messaging or even by e-mail and has the advantage that people can participate from many different locations.

In this technique the facilitator asks for input from the participants. He takes their ideas and consolidates them into a list that is sent to each participant. The participants then add ideas to those already listed. This circulation of the lists continues until no additional ideas are generated.

The Delphi technique creates a lot of work for the facilitator. All ideas have to be listed by the facilitator, who also usually has to telephone many of the participants in order to get them to participate in each round. The overall time to do the Delphi technique can be weeks depending on how dedicated the participants are.

Nominal Group Technique.

This is another type of meeting technique. In nominal group the participants are known to one another as in brainstorming, but the ideas are submitted to the facilitator as written lists. This makes the ideas, if not the participants, anonymous. The facilitator lists the ideas on a flip chart or a board, and the participants add more ideas in another round of written lists until no additional ideas are added.

This technique reduces any status concerns or intimidation that might be present in a brainstorming session but does not eliminate it entirely. There is more work for the facilitator, but the nominal group method can be done in a single meeting, and participation improves over brainstorming even if some enthusiasm may be lost.

Expert Interviews.

There might be experts available either inside or outside the company for a new project and a new kind of business. Expert interviews must be handled with care. If the project team is not prepared for the expert interview, much time can be wasted with the expert simply telling stories about his or her past exploits. An effort should be made to develop a list of questions for the expert.

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