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Waltzing with Bears: Managing Risk on Software Projects by Timothy Lister, Tom DeMarco

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21. Value Offsets Risk

How much risk should we be willing to take on a given project? Whatever answer you come up with has to account for the potential value the project could deliver. No workable philosophy of risk-taking can ignore value. When the stakes are high, it’s worth running even serious risks. When the stakes are low, almost no risk should be tolerable.

If that paragraph seemed reasonable to you, you are in the minority. The IT industry seems to subscribe to an almost opposite philosophy: Take lots of risks when the benefit is negligible. How else can we possibly get costs down enough to justify this loser of a project?

This thinking has been the genesis of one of the most common but infamous working styles in our industry. . . .

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