Why Risk Management?

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Hello to everyone,

a lot of people ask me “Why Risk Management is important?”

So I answer them with the following photo because a picture equals to 1000 words!!!


Ενημερωθείτε για τα σεμινάρι Risk Management της Human Asset που οδηγούν στις εξετάσεις της διεθνούς πιστοποίησης “Risk Management Professional (RMP)”:

Σχετικά με Σεμινάρια Risk Management

Εισηγητής: Φουρτούνας Αθανάσιος, at.fourtounas@gmail.com, +306946003220


Δείτε τι είπαν παλιότεροι συμμετέχοντες:

Σχόλια Συμμετεχόντων

Ειδικές τιμές για όσους στον παρελθόν παρακολούθησαν προγράμματά μας!

Οι ομάδες έχουν αρχίσει να συμπληρώνονται και οι θέσεις είναι περιορισμένες για καλύτερη ποιότητα του προγράμματος. 

Το σεμινάριο προσφέρει 20 PDUs για όσους κατέχουν πιστοποίηση PMP

Note: “PMI”, “PMP”, and “PMBOK Guide” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Preparing for a Black Swan Risk

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Hello to everyone,

you all know that I am a fan of Nasim Taleb and one of my favorite books is “The Black The_black_swan_taleb_coverSwan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable“, released on April 17, 2007. So, during my internet research, I have found the following papers about “Black Swans Risks” and I want to share with you.

Black Swans Risks

Black Swans are defined as rare, random, and high-impact events and are characterized to be catastrophic and broad.   However, many argue these events are occurring more and more frequently: massive earthquake in Haiti (2010), coal ash spill in Tennessee (2008), and Hurricane Katrina (2005). Some skeptics believe, in hindsight, that these events should have been identified because post-event investigations found warning signs that signaled such an event was likely to occur that experts failed to see in their predictions. In reality, Black Swan events still continue to be unpredictable and unpreventable. Although you can’t prepare for every scenario, but you can establish principles and protocols to be better prepared for the unexpected. A recent thought paper by Ernst & Young explains how to do that.

Principles for Preparing for and Responding to a Black Swan

The paper provides broad-based principles that can be applied to any organization. black-swanHaving these principles in place before the Black Swan event occurs is crucial to an effective recovery. Here is a brief summary of the core principles:

  1. Establish response goals, assigning leadership to meet those goals and establishing reporting channels during the crisis.
  2. Establish immediate response goals and values in order to limit the impact before a formalized plan is developed.
  3. Empower local leadership and personnel to recognize and mitigate emerging catastrophic risks.
  4. Plan and execute redundant mitigation responses in case the primary response fails.
  5. Know your resources and how to use them during a catastrophe. Leaders should keep track of internal and external recourses including personnel, financial, and physical resources.
  6. Incorporate outside perspectives and experiences into their response strategy.taleb-5
  7. Remain objective throughout the process when analyzing, discussing, and responding to catastrophic risks.
  8. Maintain the moral high ground by planning and executing responses based on what is right, rather than planning for only the company’s best interest.
  9. Challenge your response strategy with an independent perspective to help identify weaknesses before the Black Swan does.

Response Protocols for a Catastrophe

The paper includes some basic protocols for responding to a Black Swan. The following protocols are not designed to be a step-by-step process but rather a general basis for responding:

  1. Develop risk recognition criteria in order to know when and how to respond.Black_Swan_White-Paper
  2. Develop a quick response team led by a senior manager, typically the COO. This team should include personnel from across the business functions and external advisers. The team should concentrate on containing and minimizing the event.
  3. Create a response team of leaders who should assess the situation, understand the risks faced, and response goals in order to quickly initiate the correct response plan.
  4. Develop multiple response options and categorize them base on largest contribution toward response goals.
  5. Evaluate each option by considering its risk/reward and whether the organization has the capabilities to carry out the plan. Critical assumptions should be documented during this process for future reference.Societe Generale Black Swan
  6. Implement the response following the guidelines and procedures previously established during pre-event planning.
  7. Assess continually the effectiveness of the response by making corrections as need. After the event, management should discuss lessons learned and incorporate these lessons into training and future response planning.


Black Swans are unpredictable but can be prepared for by establishing identification cigno-nero-black-swanmethods, response goals, and quick response strategies before the event occurs. The principles and protocols that Ernst and Young provided in this thought paper are intended to help guide your organization to establishing a response strategy. Taking this approach can provide your organization with a number of benefits including but not limited to reputation protection, a faster return normal business, and minimization of the impact.

Click the link below to download the thought paper.

Link: Ernst & Young

Ref: https://erm.ncsu.edu/library/article/risk-planning-blackswan


Stakeholders & Risk Management: 2 educational Case Studies by PMI

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Hello to everyone,

in the PM Network Magazine of January 2017, I read a couple of interesting articles about Stakeholders (SH’s) and Risk Management, I want to share them with you.

Pages from pmnetwork201701-dl

We know that stakeholders are those individuals/organizations who are actively involved in our projects and/or have a valued interest in the outcome of those projects.  To put it in other words, they are the individuals/organizationsWe know that stakeholders are those individuals who are actively involved in our projects and/or have a valued interest in the outcome of those projects.  To put it in other words, they are the individuals who will influence or/and be influenced by your project.

1. PROJECT: Chicago Cubs victory celebration,  LOCATION: Chicago, Illinois, USA


So, the first Case Study is about organizing a celebration event at the city of Chicago for the Fans of the Chicago Cubs who were waited 108 years for their Major League Baseball team to win a World Series title. An estimated 5 million people in Chicago, Illinois, USA lined streets for a parade and filled a public park for a rally and this colossal celebration to mark the occasion was arranged in just one day!!!

This was achieved because the Project team started with a successful Stakeholder Identification process that was intergated with basic processes of Risk Management and all the above was combined with the exploitation of previous Lessons Learned from previous events in Chicago.


Key points: 

a. Stakeholders Identified:

a. 5 million inhabitants

b. Public park employees

c. Public transportation employees

d. Police officers

e. Contractor for coloring  the river

f. City hall employees

g. Chicago Cubs team

APTOPIX World Series Cubs Parade

b. Lessons Learned that were used:

a. Every years St. Patrick’s Day holiday

b. Celebration for winning the National Hockey League

c.  2008 election night rally for President Barack Obama


The 7th largest gathering in human history was coordinated in 1 day!!!


Enjoy the article:   1. SHs case of Chicago

Enjoy a video: Chicago Cubs World Series Champions Parade


     2. PROJECT: Renovation of Les Halles Mall   LOCATION: Paris, Europe

screen_shot_2011-10-15_at_10.58.40_pm1318737534981 Les Halles early 1900

The second Case Study, is about the Les Halles in Paris. Les Halles was a central fresh food market back at 1863 that was renovated at 1970 as an underground mall connected with Metro (underground train station—encompass six underground levels) and in our days has 150.000 visitors daily! At 2010 there was a decision for a new renovation so the project was about to begin.

Les Halles 1970  Les Halles in 1970

Reading the article you can realize that in this case the Project Team conducted a detailed Stakeholder Identification process that was followed by successful Risk Management.

Key points: 

a. Stakeholders Identified:

(1) City Government

(2) 750.000 Commuters

(3) Neighboring residents

(4) Local businesses

(5) 150.000 shoppers

(6)  Tourists

Observation post 2Observation post 1

So as to build Stakeholders confidence from start to finish, the project team created an exhibition and observation deck next to the project site open seven days a week. The exhibit’s two staffers showed models of the project and answered visitor questions. The team also provided updates via a project website, email blasts and a biannual magazine, Demain les Halles (Tomorrow les Halles).


Moreover, after meeting with stakeholders and consultants, the team decided to increase the number of  mall entrances from seven to nine so as to achieve Stakeholders expectations to become true. It also improved  connections between the  mall and the RER station  and built more spacious  train platforms.

Les Halles 2017 2

b. Identification of Risks and Responses:

Risks were indentified promptly and proper responses were took place:

(1) Projects work schedules were adjusted according to shoppers, commuters, delivery drivers, shop employees cause closing shops would have an effect of a loss of 4 billion euros.


(2) Combined to the above, demolition work couldn’t happen at night because the vibrations and noise would keep residencies awake. So the main working hours were 7 to 10 a.m.

(3) When contractors began demolishing walls to remodel the train station, they discovered the thickness and construction of some walls didn’t match the initial architectural plans the project team had reviewed. Moreover, the thickest walls had lots of lead and asbestos which required extra remediation work for which the team had to use the Contigency Time reserve.

Enjoy the article:  2. SHs case study of Paris

Enjoy the videos: 1. Forum des Halles My New Paris

                                  2. Unveiling of 1 billion euro revamp of metro, shopping complex

                                  3. Time lapse of Le chantier des Halles et la canopée

Les Halles 2017






Les Halles 2017


Note: “PMI”, “PMP”, and “PMBOK Guide” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Business Continuity & Risk Management

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Business continuity planning has become a critical component to companies with respect to risk management. Over the past few years, risk managers have changed how they view risk from looking at it from a silo perspective to an enterprise wide perspective. They have determined that a cohesive corporate risk management strategy is imperative in today’s world. Critical ingredients to this enterprise wide risk management system are being prepared, mitigating risks, recovering from risks, and being able to continue operating.


For business continuity planning, risk managers are essential to the process.  This point is highlighted in an article by Pat Moore The Role of the Risk Manager in Continuity Planning.    They create and contribute to the steering committee, help to determine the scope of the project, and make certain that the vital resources are provided to achieve the goals and objectives. Some of the benefits of business continuity planning recognized by risk managers are the organization’s ability to comply with contractual agreements concerning delivery of products or services, the institution of procedures to discover and explain for costs incurred during the recovery process, and the reduction of stockholders filing lawsuits against management for a lack of due diligence or duty of trust.


In today’s economy, companies’ risk management areas utilize the business impact analysis (BIA) process to identify the financial and operational impacts of risk exposures for the businesses and their suppliers. The BIA process helps to determine the cost of risks and also develop recovery strategies. Some additional impacts consider with the use of the BIA process are:

  • Loss of critical employees
  • Loss of important documents or records
  • Global issues such as a change in political climate
  • Interruption of importing/exporting operations
  • Critical labor relationships
  • Potential sources of revenue
  • Regulatory controls


In addition to identifying the impacts of specific areas, the BIA process assists risk management and an organization’s executive management to make better-educated decisions on which business units are critical to the operations of the business, how long of a time lag is acceptable before the units are back in operation, what resources are needed to get the business going again, and the methods on addressing the company’s internal and external interdependencies.


In the past contingency planning was performed by a contingency planner with a background in information systems. However recently companies are realizing that the planning needs to begin with the CEO or COO and then go through the CFO to the risk manager. The risk manager’s goal is to protect the assets and manage the risks of a company and today the risk manager is integrated this objective with the financial decisions and business continuity planning issues. More and more risk managers are becoming involved with strategic management and continuity of operations planning and therefore are influential to helping business continuity professionals improve the process while expanding the scope of contingency planning.




The value of a Risk Management Certification in your profession!

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A few days ago, I read a very interesting article by CNN Money and I want to share it with you. The article has the title “Risk Management profession given an ‘A’ grade”.


While reading it, you can understand the value of obtaining a Risk Management Certification and what impact this will have in your career and salary!


        ” Risk Management is a career that has long flown under the radar. Because it is not a common job choice, a frequent question of risk managers is how they found their way into the profession. Risk managers say they wouldn’t do anything else. The reasons they list include interesting duties that differ from day to day, opportunities for creative thinking and problem-solving, and collaboration with other areas in their company.

Risk Management concept image with business icons and copyspace.

Now CNN Money has made the job’s advantages official, listing risk management director as the “second best job in America” of the top 100 “careers with big growth, great pay and satisfying work.”

According to CNN Money:

The job has evolved in recent years to be about more than just natural disasters. Directors are now also tasked with identifying, preventing, and planning for all the risks a company might face, from cybersecurity breaches to a stock market collapse.


Asked why she thinks the job is great, Julie Pemberton, vice president at Diatom Ventures and RIMS 2016 president, told CNN Money:

As they uncover new risks, risk management directors must also advise the company on how to address them. That keeps me totally engaged and gives me the ability to be creative and find solutions for the business. I’m constantly contributing to the business in a meaningful way.

The job as risk management director was given a grade “A” for personal satisfaction, “A” for its benefit to society, “B” for telecommuting and “B” for low stress. Top pay for the job was listed as $200,000 with median pay of $131,000.”

If you want to obtain the Risk Management Professional Certification (PMI-RMP) by PMI so as to have a succesful career, obtain more info from Mr. Athanasios Fourtounas at:


Read below what the participants have said:

Comments of participants

Ref: http://www.riskmanagementmonitor.com/risk-management-profession-given-an-a-by-cnn-money/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+RiskManagementMonitor+%28Risk+Management+Monitor%29  by Caroline McDonald

Note: “PMI”, “PMP”, and “PMBOK Guide” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Plato, Aristotelie and Project Management

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Hello to everyone,

A couple of days ago, I was reading  the magazine “Project Management Journal, June 2016” and there was an interesting article named “The metaphysical questions every project practitioner should ask”.

In the article there is a very insightful connection between opinions of the famous Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotele and principles of Project Management.

I am quoting the specific part of the article below, enjoy:

“Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

What is ultimately a project? To gain insight into this question, we tap into the wisdom of the Allegory of the Cave, written by one of the greatest philosophers of all time, Plato (427–347 BCE) in his famous book, The Republic. Its fictional dialogue between Plato’s teacher Socrates and Plato’s brother Glaucon is well known and full of insights for this article.

Ο Μύθος του Σπηλαίου

For project management, Plato’s allegory teaches us two important things: (1) that there are different ways of seeing or not seeing a project, in other words, the contrast between Metaphysical Worldviews of Being Versus Becoming; and (2) that the project consists of both the physical or material elements and the eternal or immaterial elements that Plato calls “forms” (Solomon & Higgins, 2010), in other words, the contrast of Ancient Materialism Versus Ancient Immaterialism.

Project practitioners may focus on the physical or material elements of the project that are experienced through the senses: inputs such as money, time, and resources; project artifacts such as charter, scope statement, and plan; and outputs such as car, phone, or skyscraper. In so doing, they spend much of their time in the ordinary material world, the world of “shadows,” what Heraclitus (536–470 BCE) calls the world of “becoming” and Bertrand Russell (1912/1997) calls the “world of existence”: “The world of existence is fleeting, vague, without sharp boundaries, without any clear plan or arrangement, but it contains all thoughts and feelings, all the data of sense, and all physical objects, everything that can do either good or harm, everything that makes any difference to the value of life and the world” (p. 100).

Things in this world tend to emerge, change, die, or disappear. That’s the case of inputs that turn into outputs throughout the project. To illustrate this point, we make an analogy between the project plan and hand-drawing a triangle in an attempt to prove a theorem of Euclidian geometry about triangles: Much like one cannot draw a true triangle with straight exact lines and angles, project practitioners cannot mistake the plan for the true project. As Plato contends, the perfect project, if there is one, does not exist anywhere in the material world. Indeed, in such a diachronic world, project practitioners deal only with images of the project, never with the reality that lies behind it.


Project management practitioners may wonder where the “perfect” project exists. Plato would say that it is found in another world that is more real than the material world; it is a world that is pure, eternal, and immaterial, and can only be known through reason, not through experience. Parmenides (539–492BCE) would call it a “being,” permanent, synchronic, and unchanging world. “The world of being is unchangeable, rigid, exact, delightful to the mathematician, the logician, the builder of metaphysical systems, and all who love perfection more than life” (Russell, 1912/1997, p. 100). Which of the two worlds do today’s project practitioners prefer?

According to our temperaments, we shall prefer the contemplation of one or of the other. The one we do not prefer will probably seem to us a pale shadow of the one we prefer, and hardly worthy to be regarded as in any sense real. But the truth is that both have the same claim on our impartial attention, both are real, and both are important to the metaphysician. (Russell, 1912/1997, p. 100)

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave brilliantly and creatively ties together the Greek and pre-Socratic views of both ancient materialism that sees the project as consisting of purely stable, physical, or material elements (e.g., Thales, 624–546 BCE; Democritus, 460–371 BCE), and ancient immaterialism that sees the project as nothing more than numbers, minds, or spirits (e.g., Pythagoras, 571–497 BCE; Parmenides 539–492 BCE; Heraclitus 536–470 BCE). Like Pythagoras, who considers numbers more important than trees and tables, Plato gives primacy to eternal principles. Like Parmenides, Plato purports that things in our day-to-day experience are not truly real (for example, the project plan), and yet like Heraclitus, he appreciates the notion of constant change and its underlying logic, which Plato captures in what he calls “form” (Solomon & Higgins, 2010).

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave also illustrates the difference between what the project appears to be and what the project really is; this is what Russell (1912/1997) sees as “one of the distinctions that cause most trouble in philosophy.” (p. 9) In this context, the more real project (if it is real at all) is not the project plan, nor is it something practitioners can sense. Rather, with experience, project practitioners can construct and shape a project from the elements they can see, including an artifact like the project plan.

Here we have already the beginning of one of the distinctions that cause the most trouble in philosophy—the distinction between “appearance” and “reality”, between what things seem to be and what they are. The painter wants to know what things seem to be, the practical man and the philosopher want to know what they are. (Russell, 1912/1997, p. 9)

Plato’s Universals: Implications for Projects and Project Management

We can take away another lesson from Plato’s “theory of ideas,”1 which contends that particulars such as red roses, pens, and shirts can have things in common—like “redness” (Quine, 1948), or that there is a “chairiness” in the idea of a pure and universal form of a chair (Whitty, 2013). For project management, this suggests that projects can share some characteristic—let’s call it “project-ness” (Quine, 1948). This project-ness includes properties, characteristics, or “predicates” (as philosophers call them), such as having needs, objectives, scope, constraints, deliverables, milestones, budget, time-duration, resources, risks, organization structures, roles and responsibilities for project stakeholders, schedules, and tracking measures. Moreover, “the more real or perfect project” is also a universal, a form.


Because project-ness and the more real project—to name but a few universals—are not particulars, they cannot exist in our day-to-day world (“the world of existence”); “they are things other than particular things, which particular things partake of and have characteristics of” (Russell, 1912/1997, pp. 92–93). The Platonic universals are very influential in project management.

There is much Platonic thinking in the world of project management. Most if not all drawings of project management processes in project management journals and textbooks such as the PMBOK Guide are of universal forms. . . . Perhaps like Plato, we feel that if we identify the universal forms that comprise projects and project management, we will in some way come to know more about the reality of project and project management. (Whitty, 2013, pp. 99–100)

Aristotle: The Everyday Project World Is the Real One

Common-sense thinker Aristotle (384–322 BCE) does not reject the all-important distinction between appearances and reality, but he strongly disagrees with his teacher Plato’s two-worldview and, in a sense, brings Plato down to earth. From the Aristotelian perspective, the everyday project world is the real one and there is no other. He believed that “formal principles or universals that form things into what they are could be found in the substance of the thing itself and not apart from it” (Whitty, 2013, p. 100). Taking this viewpoint, the project plan is just a small part of the project, yet it is the real thing—“the substance or a thing that exists in its own right.”


An early, extremely influential view about reality seen in its most general light is that it consists of things and their properties—individual things, often called particulars, and properties, often called universals that can belong to many such individuals. . . . Very closely allied to this notion of an individual is the concept of substance, that in which properties “inhere.” (van Inwagen & Sullivan, 2015, p. 16)

However, just because we understand that small part does not necessarily mean that we grasp the whole project—“the essence.” Much of project management today is grounded in Aristotelian thinking.

Project management processes and practices (the essential cause of a project) give the project its identifiable “life-cycle” form. So the essence of the project, that is to say those features that make an experience a project, are inextricable from the practices and process that are recognizable as project management. A point to take from this line of reasoning is that we do not apply project management to projects, but rather a body of work is identifiable as a project because project management is applied to it. It is project management, the implementation of particular practices and processes that cause the form of work to be identifiable as a project. (Whitty, 2013, p. 103)

In this light, there are two starting points to explore the question about what a project ultimately is. Project practitioners may espouse Plato’s view that the project is something other than the day-to-day project things, or they may accept Aristotle’s view that the project really is what they can see as a substance of the daily life of it, such as the project plan (Solomon & Higgins, 2010). But do these two post-Socratic metaphysical views tell the whole story?”

Note: “PMI”, “PMP”, and “PMBOK Guide” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Construction Risks and Contractors

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Hello to everyone,

In the “PM Network” magazine of April 2016 (pages 28-29) there is an interesting article about Construction Risks and Contractors. It focuses on contractors and suppliers to manage construction risks through confidence.

Cover of April 2016

I am quoting from the article:

“There is a number of risks that can be controlled or influenced through the right management of contractors and suppliers. This is because 70 to 75 percent of expenditures in capital megaprojects in the heavy engineering sector are made through these vendors. Here are the techniques for building risk control:
a. Contractor Screening

b. Bid Evaluation

c. Contract Administration

d. Support Framework

e. Application of Risk Mitigation Tools”


You can read the full article below:

Construction Risks and Contractors

Moreover, you can read the below relevant post:

 Construction contracts and risk allocation

If you want to learn more about “Risk Management”, get informed for our new Risk Management courses (in class or online) at:

Fourtounas Athanasios, at.fourtounas@gmail.com ή +306946003220 (Trainer)

Also read what our participants have comment after the seminars.

athens-nov-2015-6Εξ αποστάσεως Μαρ 16

3. Επιτυχίες RMP για 2014-2016

Note: “PMI”, “PMP”, and “PMBOK Guide” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.


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