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Utah Department of Transportation

In 2011, Fred Doehring of the Utah Department of Transportation needed help on a critical project. They wanted to design and conduct a Risk Assessment Facilitation Workshop to coordinate with the various stakeholders of a large infrastructure construction project in Salt Lake County. The project involved widening the road, moving some Salt Lake County water pipes, moving utility cables, and it also involved purchasing six homes through an eminent domain process. Lots of operational risks, but also brand risk, political risk, and legal risk as well.

Kristina Narvaez led this project. She worked with an assembled group of critical stakeholders to understand their perspectives of the different risks, and the likely impact of realized risk on each facet of this complex project. With all the risks identified, the group developed a set of risk criteria that differentiated between 1) managed risks (green), 2) cautionary risks (yellow), and 3) critical risks (red). Using the risk criteria, we then created a risk heat map based on the agreed upon risk criteria and then voted on what were the top 20 critical risks in the project. After voting on the top 20 risks, we reviewed the risk mitigation strategies of the top 20 risks and assigned risk owners and created a risk register to monitor the risks throughout the construction project.

Complex risks, both operating and strategic, often require more than assessment from a single, outside expert. The process of identifying risk is enhanced when multiple stakeholders come together, and the management of those risks is easier and more effective when everyone’s perspective has been heard, and the best of each suggestion appears in the risk management plan. The human side of risk management often becomes more important than the technical analysis. We have a deep knowledge of the human side of risk.

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