Friday, August 24, 2012

Risk brainstorming activity

Every Agile project I work on has recurring retrospective sessions.
At times I highjack the retrospective session and run this risk brainstorming activity instead.
I find it useful to run this activity at the project beginning (on the first or second Sprint), and before major releases.

Introducing the activity
This is a collective thinking activity to develop the team criticisms, awareness, and responsiveness for possible challenges ahead of us.

Identifying risks
Please put on your "Black hat" on (from Eduard de Bono's Six Thinking hats) and write down things that can negatively impact our project.
Use a color for each note and place it on the top of the canvas.

The canvas
Below is the canvas drawing.
This one is on a shared GoogleDrawing document. This was useful for a distributed team. For local teams, I rather draw it on a whiteboard, or on a A3 paper.

the canvas

Risk mitigation conversation
Let's chat (and take notes) for each identified risk. For doing so, we will follow the following order for each identified risk: prevention, detection and response.

  • Prevention - What is in place that will attempt to stop the risk happening in the first place? (eg: security, awareness & training programs, qualified staff, planning, and/or procedures);
  • Detection - What is in place that will let me know if and when the risk does happen? (staff / customer reporting mechanisms, financial reconciliation, fire alarms, audits); and
  • Response - If the risk happens anyway, what measures do we have in place to lessen the impact? (eg: contingency plans, back ups, insurance, resolution processes). text from University of Victoria website

A canvas from a real project
Below is the canvas used on a real project I participated on. Note that you can either use one canvas per risk, or have many risks on the same canvas. I prefer the later with many colorfull post-its.

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