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- Wicked problem.
The biggest problem is how to measure risks in terms of their potential likelihood, their possible consequences, their correlation and the public's perception of them. The situation is further complicated by identifying different categories of problem types; Tame problems straight-forward simple linear causal relationships and can be solved by analytical methods , and 'messes' which have high levels of system complexity and have interrelated or interdependent problems needing to be considered holistically.
However, when an overriding social theory or social ethic is not shared the project or risk manager also faces 'wickedness'.
Wicked problems are characterised by high levels of behavioural complexity, but what confuses real decision-making is that behavioural and dynamic complexities co-exist and interact in what is known as wicked messes. Tame, Messy and Wicked Risk Leadership will help professionals understand the limitations of the present project and risk management techniques. It introduces the concepts of societal benefit and behavioural risk, and illustrates why project risk has followed a particular path, developing from the basis of engineering, science and mathematics.
Strategic Project Risk Appraisal and Management | Emerald Insight
David Hancock argues for, and offers, complimentary models from the worlds of sociology, philosophy and politics to be added to the risk toolbox, and provides a framework to understand which particular type of problem tame, messy, wicked or messy and wicked may confront you and which tools will provide the greatest potential for successful outcomes.
Finally he introduces the concept of 'risk leadership' to aid the professional in delivering projects in a world of uncertainty and ambiguity. Anyone who has experienced the pain and blame of projects faced with overruns of time or money, dissatisfied stakeholders or basic failure, will welcome this imaginative reframing of some aspects of risk management. This is a book that has implications for the risk management processes, culture, and outcomes, of large and complex projects of all kinds.
We thought we knew what project risk management was and what it could do. David Hancock shows us a great deal more of both. David Hancock has probably read more about risk management than almost anybody else, he has almost certainly thought about it as much as anybody else and he has quite certainly learnt from doing it on very difficult projects as much as anybody else. His book draws fully on all three components.
For a book which tackles a complex subject with breadth, insight and novelty - it's remarkable that it is also a really good read.
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I could go on! David Hancock points out that real life is much more complicated, with the heart of the problem lying in people, so that real life resembles poker rather than roulette. He also points out that while the important thing is to solve the right problem, many real life issues cannot be readily described in a definitive statement of the problem. There are often interrelated individual problems with surrounding social issues and he describes these real life situations as 'Wicked Messes'.
Tame, Messy and Wicked Risk Leadership
Unusual terminology, but definitely worth the read, as much for the overall problem description as for the recommended strategies for getting to grips with real life risk management. I have no hesitation in recommending this book. He challenges risk managers, and particularly those involved in project risk management, to take a much broader approach to the assessment of risk and consider the social, political and behavioural dimensions of each problem, as well as the scientific and engineering aspects with which they are most comfortable.
In this way, risks will be viewed more holistically and managed more effectively than at present. This sounds fascinating, and I wanted to read more about it. Maybe Hancock will write another volume exploring the concept of risk leadership in more depth? As one of the UK's leading experts on risk I'm sure he's got more to say on the subject.