Thursday, May 01, 2008

Risky Business

In project management, one is always looking at threats and opportunities. To do so you basically think of all the things that could possibly happen to affect your project and then try and figure out what the probability is that this thing could happen. Then you ask yourself, if it did happen what would be the impact? If you're looking at risks, you then need to decide whether to mitigate, transfer, avoid or accept the risk.

Sounds pretty dry huh? But it's not. Once you identify things that have a very high probability of happening that would have a high impact on your project, now you know where to start to focus. Like in the matrix above, anything in box 4 would be important because the chances were so high it might happen and the results so devastating that you'd want to begin focusing on those things right away.

So, the reason for this little primer? Yesterday Jenni brought little Oscar over to our house so she could watch both boys while I teleworked. (Su and I recently decided that Danny was getting too active to really watch and telework together so he is now officially in Jenni's hands on Wednesday too.) Anyway, we were enjoying a nice morning, me typing away on my laptop in the dining room, while Jenni, from the couch in the living room fed Danny his morning bottle. Oscar happily played at his mom's feet.

Suddenly our baby cat CJ who often wanders up on the front window ledge to watch the birds all excited by a fly or something on the glass. She jumped up and started to squeeze herself between the glass and a huge plant that we've had at that spot for over 5 years now. It was a "mother-in-law's toungue" plant. Jenni and I looked on in stunned silence as CJ clawed and pushed at the window. The plant started to rock, and as if in slow motion but really in an instant it plummeted to the ground onto the play area below. It broke into several pieces and I have to tell you it was heart-stopping.

The plant, pot and soil probably weighed 30 lbs or more and would have seriouly injured anyone hit by them. Oscar was pretty non-plussed but Danny, who'd been drifting off, was really scared by it. Of course it didn't help that Jenni and I were both understandably shaken by it.

I've tried not to, but I've played the scene over and over again in my mind. I've been so unbelievably grateful to God that neither sweet little Oscar nor Danny was there in that moment. Unbelievably grateful. And I can't help but believe that this is a cautionary tale in this for us all. We often think that as long as our kids can't reach or move something stable, that they're safe. I'd never thought of a cat or other animal doing the knocking down for them.

I know I can't freak out and see danger everywhere. But I also know that I will do any and everything in my power to keep Danny safe. Danny and any child who comes to our house.

So...on my matrix above, the probability of that plant falling was so low it was off my radar screen. Five straight years with no incident. But the impact if it were to fall is/was tremendously high. Box number 3 I'm looking at you. As maybe we all should.

Danny, you are the most important "project" that your mama and I will ever manage. We're learning and growing too and we love you more than you will ever know.

Signed, a very, very grateful mom. -Monica

P.S. This picture of Danny playing with our neighbors last week gives a good view of the plant that fell.

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