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There Is A New Risk Response Strategy!

Bill Holmes

“Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” Warren Buffett

“This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read.” Winston Churchill

There is a new risk response strategy!

The previous options for threats were avoid, transfer, mitigate or accept. The previous options for opportunities were exploit, share, enhance or accept.

I did a series articles on risk and you can find those here:

I am co-authoring a book based on the newly released PMBOK® Guide, 6th edition, so I am reading it line by line. I am forming opinions about the revised content, but today I wanted to focus on the new risk response strategy of “escalate”. The exact quote from the PMBOK Guide, 6th edition, is: “Escalation is appropriate when the project team or the project sponsor agrees that a threat is outside the scope of the project or that the proposed response would exceed the project manager’s authority.”

What do you think about that?

I think that it is a common-sense reaction to how many projects are run in the real world.

For a predictive project, the project team determines scope (agreed work), cost (budget) and schedule (when it will be delivered). The project manager conducts a risk assessment and determines the necessary amount of reserve (both time and money) to account for known and unknown risk.

Baseline agreed to, they deliver the project. The project mamager address issues as they arise and report out when agreed upon thresholds of variance are breached.

Unfortunately, that is not how most projects are run!

Projects often start with crashed schedules and the “reserve” that the project manager is supposed to be able to use at their discretion is normally held at the Executive Steering Committee (ESC) level. In many instances, almost every decision effecting scope, cost or schedule is made at a higher level. The project manager’s role is to execute the wishes of the ESC, not really run the project!

Does this sound familiar? Micro-management is in vogue!

Given that reality, the “escalate” risk response strategy is a beautiful way to give the project manager a documented, PMI® endorsed path forward! The actual verbiage does state that this can be used when “the proposed response would exceed the project managers authority”. Since the risk log and responses are often controlled by the ESC, this new addition merely reflects the micro-managed environment that many projects managers find themselves in.

Well done PMI.


I remember the first time I saw a “Life is Good®” t-shirt with the trademark symbol. I thought it was brilliant! Since then I have seen what I would have assumed to be public domain phrases trademarked and their promotional use owned by a smart individual who now has licensing rights! I am becoming familiar with the United States Patent and Trademark Office as I have a mechanical patent pending and have trademarked both an original art logo and a product name. The other day I was talking to a friend of mine and he used one of those catch phrases that I am sure you have all heard, and I was intrigued. I checked the USPTO and it was available! So I filed for it. I also locked up the domain name. More to follow!

Source: This article was originally published on Project Management Forum

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This post was written by Bill Holmes

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