Most projects and project proposals have a table. Sometimes two. Risks and assumptions listed out in one column and then across the top the likelihood (high, medium, low) plus an extra column for mitigation. Not much time is spent on these tables, especially in comparison to the objectives and activities sections of proposals. Most of us carry with us the ‘it won’t happen to me’ bias. While harms and risks are possible, they won’t happen in my project because, well, it is somehow different.
Here’s the thing. Harm is always possible when it comes digital and data. And yet, very rarely do we articulate these harms in our risk tables. And rarer still, do project reviewers call this out. And yet, I doubt it is intentional, but rather unintentional due to lack of knowing what potential harms exist.
Perhaps one of the levers we have to bring about change is the humble risk table. But to do so, it needs to be accompanied guides for designers and reviewers to use so they can help identify potential harms. What are the things to look for?
And yes, it can always become another tick box exercise. Anything can. It is a choice.
And the choice is up to us.