How to prepare Risk Breakdown Structure (RBS)?


Risk Breakdown Structure (RBS) is a tool that provides hierarchical structure of project risks arranged by risk categories. Risk categories generally are grouping of potential risk sources and it differs from one project to another. Below is a sample RBS for construction design project (RBS Template adapted from Dorofee et al., 1996)

RBS Template adapted from Dorofee et al., 1996

RBS Template adapted from Dorofee et al., 1996

Instead of going through a big spreadsheet with hundreds of verbose entries about risks, RBS provides a pictorial representation of related risk categories arranged in a tree structure which is an excellent way of getting the complete information about project risks in a single place for effective communication, management and governance.

Let us review uses of RBS in Project Management:

  • RBS provides a structured way to identify risks by going through all risk sources from which project risks may arise
  • RBS helps the project team to focus on high risk source areas
  • RBS helps project team to develop more generic risk responses based on sources
  • RBS helps to manage & report the project risks at different levels – roll up, drill down reporting & in case multiple projects with same nature within the organization uses same RBS templates then it helps in getting comparison reports across those projects
  • Reviewing RBS from completed projects helps organization to identify high risk sources, repeated risks, document them as part of existing RBS templates and develop effective responses

Next let us review general steps involved in preparing RBS:

  • First check whether organization has RBS templates & tailor it for particular project. In case multiple templates available based on different project types (i.e. large project, IT project, Manufacturing project, etc.), pick the one which matches with current project
  • In case templates are not available, start with more generic templates or guidelines generally available & tailor it for current project need
  • RBS creation doesn’t require sophisticated drawing software. It can be created using big chart paper or spreadsheet software. It can also be represented by placing each level in different columns in the increasing order in a spreadsheet
  • Use brainstorming technique as it is the best one to build RBS structure
  • First start with broader risk sources for the Project as higher level risk categories
  • Involve stakeholders who are experts in specific source area (example industry or funding) to decompose higher level sources of risk into layers of increasing detail
  • Stop adding sub-levels at the point where sources cannot be subdivided further or subdividing will not aid risk management process significantly

References:

  1. Use a Risk Breakdown Structure (RBS) to Understand Your Risks, David Hillson, Proceedings of the Project Management Institute Annual Seminars & Symposium October 3–10, 2002, San Antonio, Texas, USA
  2. The controlling influences on effective risk identification and assessment for construction design management. International Journal of Project Management 19 (3), Chapman, R.J. 2001
  3. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute Inc., USA, 2013

The Law of Intentionality – First Law in 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth (John C. Maxwell) – Mind Map


Here is the gist of the first law from 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John C. Maxwell. In this Law of Intentionality, author establishes “Personal Growth” is intentional & not accidental.

(Click the image to Enlarge)

The Law of Intentionality

The Law of Intentionality

Happiness Model – Which one is yours?


Here is two model of defining your happiness.

Model A (in Left): Happiness is the main factor & others items surrounding it are by products. Being happy attracts good in every other thing surrounding it. You want to stay happy to achieve good in everything.

Model B (in Right): Happiness is by-product of all other items surrounding it. Only when good happens in other items, it gives rise to happiness. You want to stay good in everything to achieve happiness.

Happiness Model

Happiness Model

So which Model is yours? Left (Or) Right?

Techniques to deal with Desires & Wishes


Desires or wishes are nothing but our thoughts that are formed to get worldly items (it can be knowledge, wealth, pleasure, relationship, etc) that we like to acquire one or the other day. To deal with desires, we are using different techniques. Each one has its pros & cons.

Technique of Indulgence – This technique tells “If you have a desire, Go get it.” In that way, you can make sure it will be achievable in your life. Though we get the desire fulfilled immediately but we cannot say surely that it is removed fully.

Technique of Suppression – This technique tells “Whenever a desire comes to your mind, you tell yourself that it is wrong to have the thought”. Though this helps for short period, but it leads to depression. Also, this is the technique used if indulgence is not possible any more or desire cannot be fulfilled by any means.

Technique of Distraction – This technique tells “whenever a desire comes to your mind, distract it with some activity that occupies it”. Again here it helps for a short time. Many people goes to movie just to practice this technique – forget the worries for couple of hours & comes to old status once they come out of movie theatre.

Technique of Sublimation –  This technique tells “whenever a desire comes to your mind, convert it or transform it to a higher level of need (life goal) instead of indulgence or suppression”. We can practice the technique of setting an ultimate goal in mind & reminding it whenever a distracting desire or wish pops up.

Sigmund Freud says “Sublimation is a mature type of defense mechanism where socially unacceptable impulses or idealizations are consciously transformed into socially acceptable actions or behavior, possibly resulting in a long-term conversion of the initial impulse”

Sublimation is when displacement “serves a higher cultural or socially useful purpose, as in the creation of art or inventions” – Wade and Tavris

Though we are practicing all the above techniques in life, Sublimation technique is the best as it is transformational in nature with long-term effect.

Situations to use Transactional Leadership in Team


Transactional leadership occurs when the leader rewards the team member, depending on the adequacy of the team member’s performance. Transactional leadership depends on contingent reinforcement, either positive contingent reward (CR) or the more negative active or passive forms of management-by-exception (MBE-A or MBE-P). [1]

Here are some situations I can think of.

* Use CR – when you found team member is motivated with some kind of reward & you can arrive a mutual agreement with your team member on reward he is getting after the work done is expected fashion.

* Use MBE-A – when you don’t want a mistake/error done by your team member propagates further that may jeopardize the project. You actively get the statuses, problems, challenges, develop processes, ensure adherence of project processes, conduct reviews, etc so that no error goes beyond certain time period. This really required when you manages a critical project & have time to do micro management. This is used when team member is having less experience in the work area. MBE-A may be required and effective in some situations, such as when safety is paramount in importance[2].

* Use MBE-P – when you don’t really care much about the errors or deviance as soon as it occurred. You have some time to correct them & they are not critical. This is followed when team member is having good experience in the area of working.
Leaders sometimes must practice passive MBE when required to supervise a large number of subordinates who report directly to the leaders[2]

Reference:

1. Significant Behaviors of Transactional Leadership –https://leadershipchamps.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/significant-behaviors-of-transactional-leadership/
2. Transformational Leadership (Second Edition) BY Bernard M. Bass, Ronald E. Riggio, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.,2006

Q & A – Which one to Adopt Transactional or Transformational Leadership?


One college student asked me a Question – “Which between the two should be adopted. My lecturer says transactional leader is best 4 efficiency and effectiveness. How true is this?”

My Answer:

To best of my knowledge, I agree with the existence of both leadership styles in everyone. As we displayed & practiced transactional leadership for many decades – it was considered as the best approach, but there is no complete truth in that. One need to evaluate the situation and decide whether to go with Transactional or Transformational & should not stick on to one in all situations.

Your lecturer says so because he practiced transactional in many (appropriate) situations & found to be producing results. Also transactional is practiced by teachers a lot – “praise the student who gets high grade and punish the one who takes lesser. As they get good results from their class, they will get good name from principal”. They will understand the real taste of teaching if they start practicing Transformational.

Goals? Are you kidding?


After my new year wishes to my friend, I asked him about his 2014 goals. He replied me with a puzzling voice – “Goals? Are you kidding? Let the life go as it is.” He continued “Why should I unnecessarily burden myself with setting goals & resolutions? At the year end, I will surely have few unaccomplished goals left in my list which will make me feel bad about myself. So, no goals.. nothing”

Many of us have the same feeling like my friend. Some people like me have different opinion about goals. Type the first & foremost sentence that comes to your mind for/against goals:

1. I set goals because ———————————

2. I don’t set goals because ———————————