Several months ago, I wrote a post about the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Project Risk Management, based on a recent study that included the following seven steps:

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Forecast Completion
  3. Prioritize Critical Path
  4. Collaborate
  5. Communicate Often
  6. Be Accountable
  7. Continuous Improvement


In this blog post, we’ll focus on the first habit – Be Proactive – a simple, yet valuable way to ensure you meet your project goals.


A project manager’s goal in any engagement is to ensure the project stays on time, on budget, and meets all project specifications. In order to meet those goals, it is imperative to think ahead, ideally before the project even begins.


  • Understand past performance – when it comes to your current project, it’s necessary for teams to keep past experiences and lessons learned in mind. By thinking back to how you best managed risks from past relevant projects – from probability of risk occurrence, to how many hours to devote to which task, and contingency funds required – use past project experience to inform your current project.

  • Put your best foot forward – proactively plan out scenarios that could occur during the project and plan the team’s actions. Get detailed! This is an effective exercise to do as a group, walking through potential scenarios step-by-step. ”Scenario brainstorms” are a great tool to use during the first step of the risk management process.

  • Start creating a risk-aware culture – proactively focus on creating a culture where team members are personally rewarded for stepping up and identifying risks before they occur, rather than a culture where people are only rewarded for swooping in and putting out fires later. With proactive (rather than reactive) employees, the entire organization will benefit. If you are curious about building a risk culture across your entire organization, read our white paper.


Projects big and small benefit from being proactive. A recent example is the London Olympics, where the Olympic Delivery Authority began mapping out potential labor contract negotiations and other risks years in advance of the games, identifying, analyzing, and mitigating risks that had the potential to delay construction of key Olympic venues. The leaders also had the foresight to create a committee to review all change orders, with power over contingency funds. By proactively thinking through not only what risks could arise but also how they would handle them, the Olympic Delivery Authority ensured a safe and successful event that was actually completed under budget.


The remainder of the Habits of Highly Effective Project Risk Managers – from forecasting completion to working towards continuous improvement – all benefit from the first step, Being Proactive.


How has being proactive helped your teams deliver projects on time and on budget? Leave your answers in the comments section below or connect with us on twitter at @ActiveRisk.

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(1) Response to “Be Proactive: #1 Habit of Highly Effective Project Risk Managers”

  1. […] In what looks like the start of a series, brings us Chris Bell’s article,  Be Proactive #1 Habit of Highly Effective Project Risk Managers. Happy reading everyone. Cancel […]