Capturing Upside Risk



Book Title:  Capturing Upside Risk: Finding and Managing Opportunities in Projects
Author: Dr. David Hillson
Publisher: CRC Press / Routledge
List Price: $49.95
Format: Hardcover, 300 pages
Publication Date: June 2019
ISBN: 978-0815382515
Reviewer: Dora Jara, PMP
Review Date: September 2023



This book appealed to me for two reasons: one, it addresses classic risk management where we would want to manage threats and prevent them, and two, it addresses risk management as an opportunity seeking requirement that is equal to threat management. The book came recommended and I am glad to have listened. While we know to manage risk for traditional reasons, to equate managing opportunities seemed novel. After reading this gem, it only leaves me wanting to share this resource with my PMP peers as well as general business professionals. To think how lopsided it really has been to only see one side of the risk coin, that for so many years opportunities were not incorporated into project management; it is a true breathe of fresh air to see how well, in a very structured and technical format, opportunity management is explored in the findings of David Hillson.

If you were to look at my copy, you will find it dog-eared in several places with highlights throughout. It makes me excited about risk management to take it on with this well-focused perspective to implement opportunity finding and managing. Every project management and business professional stands to gain from reading this book. Even if you are a seasoned risk manager with some experience in finding and managing opportunities as part of risk management, David Hillson spells out the step-by-step preferred methods for assessment all the way through execution of these opportunities, and this knowledge allows us to improve in a scientific way. Big thanks go to the PMI Dallas Chapter for promoting this book.

Overview of Book’s Structure

The book’s structure is outlined in three sections. The first section deals with the importance of opportunities and why they matter in projects. In projects we have uncertainties yet not all uncertainties are negative, which is untraditional in risk management pursuits. David goes over the classic debate of the definition of “risk” and why “uncertainty that matters” encompasses opportunities. He covers the many reasons for reluctance and to overcome those obstacles where we can take risk/opportunity management from theory to practice.

The author reviews why projects are risky and included the commonalities of threats and opportunities along with definitions and addressing synonyms/semantics associated with threats and opportunities. While we know every project has risk, we need to truly take on the mindset that every project also has opportunities and pursue them in like fashion.

This first section also goes over the known risk management processes and how, with little modification, they can easily then be used to assess opportunities via risk management, all this to really end the debate why upside/opportunity risk should be an obvious part of general risk management in all projects.

The second section of the book is the heart of the book where it covers how to manage the project opportunities. This second section can be read multiple times to really absorb the concepts and actual ease of converting very little in the risk management processes where we then apply them to opportunity management. In this second section we find many charts, graphs, etc. We can see how to tailor the risk process to meet the risk challenges of our projects. He goes over the typical risk management plans and thresholds where he includes many definitions. The definitions are key to clarify how almost exact at most times the way we approach threats is the same for how we approach opportunities. The way we find threats is virtually the same way we find opportunities.


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How to cite this review: Jara, D. (2020).  Capturing Upside Risk: Finding and Managing Opportunities in Projects, book review, PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue XI, November. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/pmwj135-Nov2023-Jara-Capturing-Upside-Risk-book-review.pdf

About the Reviewer

Dora Jara

Euless, Texas, USA


Dora Jara is a Chicago native who grew up in the arts with a love for math, chess, finding creative solutions, and exploring. She has over ten (10) years of IT experience and project experience, PMP certified in late 2020.

She can be contacted at dorjara@live.com

Editor’s note:  This book review was the result of a partnership between the PM World Journal and the PMI Dallas Chapter. Authors and publishers provide books to the PM World Journal; books are delivered to the PMI Dallas Chapter, where they are offered free to PMI members who agree to provide a review within 45 days; book reviews are published in the PM World Journal and PM World Library.  After publication, reviewers can claim PDUs for PMP recertification, or continuing education units from other professional bodies.

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