PM Hack #13: Explaining the Difference between Issues and Risks

When discussing issues and risks with your stakeholders, don’t assume they know the difference between the two. Unless they have been part of risk/issue discussions in the past (or perform a risk-related function in the organization), they may get the two concepts muddled. Instead, prepare them by prefacing your discussion with an analogy they can relate to: “Before we begin our risk and issue review, let’s be sure we are all clear on the difference between a risk and an issue…” One of my favorites is the pothole analogy: “A risk is a pothole in the road ahead; ask yourself, ‘What’s the likelihood of us hitting it; if we do hit it, what will be the impact–do we need to be concerned?’ An issue is hitting the pothole.”