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Developing a mature risk mindset webinar

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Martin Gosden, SWWE Branch Co-Chair, introduced the webinar, held on 1 July 2021. The Branch was delighted to welcome back Dr David Hillson, the Risk Doctor, to talk about how to improve your approach to risk management.

David reflected on current project risk management, which is widely accepted, commonly practiced and does helps to achieve project goals.  But if that is the case, why do so many projects still fail, why is risk management not helping? Projects by their very nature are risky, and so risk management should be a key driver for project success.  So, what is going wrong?

The focus for risk management has been on the three Ts:  Technical; Tools and Training.  What is missing is the fourth T: Thinking.

How we think about risk can limit how we see and manage risk.

The common view of risk is it means trouble, problems, headaches, additional costs.

The best practice view of risk is that is means what we need to know but don’t know now, early warning to allow time to respond, spend to save investment.  It is about encouraging the right behaviours.

Having a mature risk mindset offers a more mature approach to managing risk, and is based on 6 core values and beliefs.

  1. Risk is Natural. The world is full of uncertainty- the weather, a pandemic, etc. We should accept that things happen, and plan accordingly.
  2. Risk is Manageable. Don’t have a Victim mentality. We can manage risk by addressing and reducing impact. You can choose to be a victim or victor: to choose to be proactive and engaged.
  3. Risk Matters. Risk = uncertainty that matters to your project objectives. Most uncertainty does not matter and therefore is not a risk to you.
  4. Not all risk is bad. Risk includes both threats and opportunities. Risk management is about managing the threats and capturing potential benefits. You need to do both to succeed. The slide of a mouse with a helmet, shows that the helmet may help protect against the trap, but to succeed, the mouse needs to get the cheese as well. Opportunities are ‘good risks’ which need to be planned and managed if they are to be taken advantage of.
  5. My Risk is my Responsibility. You have to own it!. If you have responsibility for objectives, you must manage the associated risk, even with the help of others. Never delegate management of a risk to someone who does not care about it!
  6. Proactivity is essential. Risk management should offer an early warning system to identify threats and opportunities. If you don’t believe risk is important, you will be surprised and get hit by a risk, or miss an opportunity. A reactive approach is too late.

Why does this matter?  How we think about risk determines how we manage it. The ABC can help with this.

  1. Attitude affects Action;
  2. Belief shapes Behaviour;
  3. Culture influences Conduct.

David emphasised that the way we think about risk affects our behaviour when we try to manage risk. For each of the six values/beliefs in the Risk Mindset, not holding these beliefs leads to unhelpful and ineffective behaviour. But if we adopt these ways of thinking then our risk management will be much more effective.

In summary, adopting a risk mindset involves 6 core values and beliefs:

  1. Risk is natural. Accept this reality
  2. Risk is manageable. Always seek to influence risk
  3. Risk matters. Focus relentlessly on objectives
  4. Not all risk is bad. Remain alert to both opportunities & threats
  5. My risk is my responsibility. Own relevant risks
  6. Proactivity is essential. Act now!

So, how can you go about adopting a mature risk mindset?

  1. Build new thinking habits. Train your mind, work on one aspect until it becomes natural
  2. Develop emotional intelligence. Be aware of your thinking, check regularly, adjust where necessary
  3. Get help. Find a coach, mentor or trusted friend
  4. Be intentional. From conscious incompetence through conscious competence to unconscious competence.

The webinar concluded with a lively and engaging Q&A session.

Martin Gosden               SWWE Branch Co-Chair

David has very kindly allowed his presented material to be made available for viewing.
The slides on Slideshare and the webinar recording on YouTube is now available in our APM resources area and also embedded below for reference.

Dr David Hillson, HonFAPM PMI-Fellow CFIRM CMgr FCMI

Known globally as The Risk Doctor, David Hillson leads The Risk Doctor Partnership (, a global consultancy offering specialist risk services across the world.

David has a reputation as an excellent speaker and presenter on risk. His talks blend thought-leadership with practical application, presented in an accessible style that combines clarity with humour, guided by the Risk Doctor motto: “Understand profoundly so you can explain simply”.

He also writes widely on risk, with 12 major books, and over 100 professional papers. He publishes a regular Risk Doctor Briefing blog in seven languages to 10,000 followers, and has over 10,000 subscribers to the RiskDoctorVideo YouTube channel (

David has advised leaders and organisations in nearly sixty countries around the world on how to create value from risk based on a mature approach to risk management, and his wisdom and insights are in high demand. He has also received many awards for his ground-breaking work in risk management over several decades.

This event is suitable for professionals with up to an intermediate level of experience.

Previous webinars can be viewed on the APM Slideshare and YouTube channels.  Follow @APMEvents for upcoming event information.

 #apmwebinar  #apm_swwe

APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition reference

Section Description
4.3.3 Risk management


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  1. Sarah Thygesen
    Sarah Thygesen 19 July 2021, 02:47 PM

    I personally felt this was the BEST risk webinar that I have attended. Very thought provoking, interesting, informative and practical. No wonder Dr Hillson is known as the 'Risk Doctor'. Highly recommend watching this webinar as risk isn't just the responsibility of the Risk Manager or the Project Manager, if the risk will impact on OUR objectives, then we are responsible. I will be sharing the webinar with my colleagues. Truly hope Dr Hillson will present additional webinars.