Leading Cause of Project Failure: Denial of Risk

Risk. It can be a four-letter word in some organizations! Bring up a risk and you could be viewed as not being a team player or as being negative.

There’s a difference between being risk averse and denial of risk. In this video Andy Kaufman, PMP, host of the project management podcast entitled The People and Projects Podcast discusses how denial of risk can be deadly to projects.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

JohnK August 7, 2010 at 2:07 pm

our company doesn’t deal with risk very well. we look like we’re not being team players if we bring up risks. i need to have my boss watch this!

Brien November 10, 2010 at 5:43 pm

This concept on denial of risk is a great one. Too often people see risks but won’t tell the emperor that he has no clothes (because the person would get punished). Here’s a great brush-off from a manager: “Oh, I’m not worried about that.” As in “I make the decisions around here–don’t worry your pretty little head.”

A significant dysfunction–thanks for addressing it so succinctly.

Suresh September 24, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Great video. I would recommend my project managers watch this video

Andy Kaufman, PMP September 25, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Thank you, Suresh. Please invite your project managers to watch the videos. Also, you might consider getting a site license of our project management e-learning: http://www.nanacast.com/essentials-of-project-management-single. Have a great week,


awere December 22, 2011 at 11:34 am

thanks sir, for educating me on the difference between risk averse and denail of risk. if i access and evaluate risk event before embarking on a prospective project where do i fall and why?

Andy Kaufman, PMP December 22, 2011 at 11:52 am

Great question! If you identify and evaluate risks before embarking on a prospective project, you are following good project management practices. Denial of risk would not follow such an approach. It is possible that one might be overly fearful of risk, meaning that when they evaluate the risks they might be overly biased against pursuing projects that, if they would have approved the project with plans to manage the risks, they might be have reaped greater benefits. That’s where we become overly risk averse. Psychologists have a term called Realistic Optimism that applies. We need to be realistic that risks exist. If we don’t, we suffer from denial of risk. Yet if we only look at the dangers and not the opportunities, we will miss out. Here’s to a year ahead for you of Realistic Optimism! 🙂

IBRAHIM J.AL-FAITOYURI February 1, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Thank you,It is really a good vedio. Actually risk management is an essential part for a successful projects , ignorance of risks will lead to project failure.

Najmuddin.ahamdy April 4, 2012 at 1:51 am

Hello i am Najmuddin.ahmady from AFGHAINSTAN: Thanks, really useful topics and hope to continue your collaboration or contribution with world community also thank from your hard working


Chavonne M. Hodges February 19, 2015 at 7:08 pm

Hi Andy. It’s great to listen to the video’s so I can re-enforce the do’s and don’ts of RISKS for my projects. I’m very visual and appreciate the positive input and output going forward with my newer projects, while review my previous risk factor projects.

Andy Kaufman, PMP February 19, 2015 at 7:15 pm

Thanks Chavonne! I appreciate your enthusiasm to learn! I look forward to seeing you in our Advanced PM class soon!

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