Risk management theory teaches us that the discipline is about any uncertainty – positive or negative. For most project teams, it is a lot easier to focus on threats than opportunities.
Given the resource constraints, tight deadlines and nebulous requirements that plague projects, it is no surprise that team members and stakeholders can start to dwell on Murphy’s Law instead of trying to identify and exploit serendipitous events.
This negative outlook can worsen over the course of a project – especially once (negative) risks start to be realized and unexpected issues hit the team.
Given this overall pessimism, how realistic is it to expect that opportunity management will be performed well enough to enable exploitation of such events?
I would suggest that organizations identify “opportunity analysts” – these resources would have risk management experience, but would not be directly involved with a given project (either as a stakeholder or team member). They would be assigned on a consultative basis to help the project team identify opportunities and to act as the primary coordinator for opportunity response (i.e. not the risk owner, but rather the main point of contact to identify such owners and to ensure that opportunity response plans are executed).
Just as it is not a good idea to have project sponsors or key stakeholders “score” projects for objective prioritization, it may not be a good idea to build opportunity management into the accountability matrix for core team members.