Risk Analysis

Risk Analysis

To jump or not to jump? That is the question.


I vividly remember when I was younger and my teacher asked me if I could swim the froggie (breast stroke to you and I), I wasn’t sure what that was but I knew two things.

  1. I knew that a frog jumped on all fours and
  2. I knew that swimming involved getting from one side of the pool to the other.


That was all the information I needed to come to my conclusion, I thought to myself. “I could do this?”. In a matter of seconds I had decided that I could swim, regardless of whether or not I had actually done this. I had seen a frog leap plenty times, I mean how much more different could it be in water?? In that moment I had made a conclusive decision to sink or swim.


One can say,  I think, “That is crazy!” and I probably was. I think I could have won first prize for my bravery but that is what risk taking is all about, uncertainty. Risk taking presents a high level of uncertainty and this scenario is no different. There is always an element of uncertainty when taking risk.  A few scenarios could have played themselves out in this situation but only one did, of course the level of uncertainty is heightened by the lack of knowledge and experience but it does not eliminate the fact that the objective was clear – getting to the other side (staying alive perhaps).


You see, the science behind the method of risk taking will take you through the steps of reducing the levels of uncertainty. Transforming a high risk situation to a low risk situation. Intellectuals will teach you different formulas, each advocating for their own method of how to best approach risk management. They will say try the KISS approach, try the Delphi method, do the SWOT analysis, conduct expert interviews or have collaborative workshops but somehow all too often produce the result of focusing on the “weeds” as described by Ovidiu Cretu et al in his book Risk Management for design and construction. This can actually cause what they call “analysis paralysis”. Where one becomes so fixated on the tiny details that it stops one from making progress towards taking risks.


Project managers and contractors will know all too well that there will always be an element of uncertainty in any project. The trick is to learn how to reduce it and when the plan doesn’t work out, to find ways of coping. If at some point you can’t avoid it or transfer the risk, Vickey Haney presents a few options of possible responses.

– Work around it

– Contingency plans

– Reserve Funds

– Follow a detailed plan

– “do nothing”

Although the last one seems non-response, it can sometimes be the best response. Taking risks is part of the game, learn it, play it and play it well. With a combination of faith, bravery and action; you too could also learn how to swim. Someone said “a life without risk is a life half lived”.


Risk Analysis requires an assessment of the risk, a belief in the risk you are taking, followed by the action of doing what is best for the situation. Sometimes no one can teach you that, you can choose to jump or not to jump. Perhaps we could learn a lesson from my youthful self and take the plunge. You can never fully eliminate risk but you can certainly reduce it so you can achieve the objective.


The risk will always be that you could sink, oh but what if you swim?


I did. What about you?




Book: Risk Management for Design and Construction, Ovidiu Cretu, Robert B. Stewart, Terry Berends

Some quotes on good living,