Tenth Man or Prudent Man?


Should the use of the Tenth Man or Prudent Man concepts be included in Risk Management planning in order to better react to supposed unpredictable incidents in project management?



By Gareth Pugsley

North Wales, UK



This article discusses research proposed by the author as part of a doctoral program.  He is seeking feedback on the concepts mentioned.

Background information and justification for the study

Prior to it happening, the risk of having a large aircraft flown into a building was thought to be so implausible that no planning was done for such an attack; that changed on 9/11.

The risk of a global virus was talked about at the World Health Organization, for one which could cause huge numbers of deaths but be like previous lethal viruses such as Ebola, who’s restricted range is due to the lethality of it. That was until Coronavirus 19.

Black and grey swan incidents are evaluated within risk reviews and can be found to have been acknowledged as a possible risk, but the probability is so low that planning for such events is regarded as non-productive use of manpower. Gray Rhinos and Black elephants get the same treatment

By using the 10th man plan it could be argued that a plan for the improbable would save time, money and in some cases people with little cost of its own.

The 10th man concept in simple terms is that if a group of 10 people evaluate information concerning prospective events or expected outcomes and 9 agree that it points to one outcome, the tenth man is to take the opposite position and plan for that eventuality. This theory is an evolution from the prudent man (Shattuck,1951) and the more recent continuation of this study (Guercio, 1996). Where present risk matrices rely on subjective scores of risk and the probability of risk accruing being based on data which is often missing vital information, the use of the 10th man system allows for the preparation of the unthinkable without impacting on the usage of the data.

A study from NATO NCIA (NATO Communications and Information Agency) recommended further study into Risk planning and suggested that it has stayed stagnant for too long. The paper proposes the further study of risks and the development of risk management planning in a more proactive rather than reactive method should be sought.

The 10th man will not stop the butterfly from flapping its wings (Davies,2018) but it could prepare for the event if it happens.


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How to cite this article: Pugsley, G. (2020). Tenth Man or Prudent Man? Commentary, PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue XII, December. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/pmwj100-Dec2020-Pugsley-tenth-man-or-prudent-man-in-project-risk-management.pdf



About the Author

Gareth Pugsley

Wales, United Kingdom



Gareth Pugsley, MBA, BA Hons is working at Academy 4 Project management in North Wales while studying for his DBA in Risk management.  Gareth spent several years working in both retail and manufacturing as well as 10 years with the Reserve Royal Air Force (RAF).

Gareth can be contacted at mrpugsley@outlook.com