Black Swans

Black swan events are so fascinating that they are a common source of discussion in many risk management forums. The variety of perspectives coming from all directions never ceases to amaze.

To a risk manager, ‘black swan’ phenomena are highly unlikely events that have massive impacts on a business or society on the rare occasions they occur. It means that the event is unexpected, but is of huge consequence (Ferguson, 2014). There is no scientific way at present to predict black swan events reasonably and acceptably.

 101916-black-swans1

I tend to question the result of the research, which suggested that by exploiting many types of data, risk managers can help prevent (or at least contain) the damage related to black swan events and other risky blind spots.

How can any data be useful without the process of correlation? Black swan events cannot be accurately quantified or calculated. They are unknown unknowns.

The interesting part mentioned in one study points to the use of integrated data to point to potential risk. The mere mention of integrated data underlines correlation; i.e. we have to associate correctly one datum to the next, or one set of information to the others, for them to be of value.

That can prove rather impossible when we have nothing to start with. How do we start working on something we do not know? There is an immense number of data points where one can start. Only by scratching the surface of knowledge that knowing starts.

Unknown unknowns (black swans) might be in the room, for all we know, but we just cannot see them until circumstances make them visible.

Once we see that the risk exists, we would surmise that it no longer qualifies as a black swan event, because we are now aware of the risk, and the element of surprise is no longer there. It is now the normal type of risk that you, and many risk managers are already familiar with, the known unknowns.

101916-black-swans4

Bill Pieroni, Chief Operating Officer at insurance giant Marsh, and a few others, contend that the best way to manage risk, even black swans is to use big data.

He explains that some events occur with more and more regularity, suggesting that some seemingly unknowable events are in fact, becoming more or less predictable. He claims that this big data will give way to shades-of-grey swans.

Perhaps he is talking about the transition from being unknown to more or less known. Although it sounds logical, shades of grey will be a doubtful state, a ghost of something that will not present any solid evidence but introduce vagueness to nothingness. It might only serve as a uncertainty generator.

101416-risk-relativity2

In the present age and time, black swan events can only be addressed by intuition.

Despite being labeled as one of the cognitive biases that underlie human flaws in decision-making, I believe that this is a true statement.

We can all agree that if anyone has the right perspective, understanding, and tools to process universal data, and integrate them into some coherent information, prediction of a black swan event is theoretically possible.

The problem in this concept is that nobody has found a way to make it practically possible.

Ergo, contrary to what the author implies, real-world application of Pieroni’s ideas is still impossible.

The risk universe is immense, yet each component, regardless of how small it might be, can affect the results. If we put a bracket to what data we analyze, then we do not have the whole picture.

If we do not put a bracket of limitation to what we evaluate, then we are analyzing infinity and we will not arrive at an answer. We are talking about a great and expansive risk network that trumps common comprehension.

I imagine that many risk drivers actually lie so far outside the boundaries of what we tend to consider that it is futile to predict a potential outcome.

Tracing the cause of a black swan event that has already happened can lead us to the most seemingly insignificant occurrence.

It is easy to posit real life examples of how some insignificant events result in a big events, spawning other effects in never ending fashion. Some of you might even trace a problem to the time when a person was born, arguing that if he had not come into being, things would have turned out differently.

I tell you, the iterations are endless. The good thing is, it is an excellent mental exercise.

Source: Frago, R. (2015).Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective. ISBN 978-0-9947608-0-7 (Canada). Section 1.7

Rufran C. Frago – Author (19-Oct-16)

Related sites:

Related articles authored by Rufran Frago.

  1. Risk Relativity
  2. Phantom Schedules
  3. Man is the Center of the Risk Universe
  4. Project Schedule Baseline Top 10 Prerequisites
  5. Setting Critical Path
  6. Schedule Critical path
  7. Primer to Good Schedule Integration
  8. Project Schedule: P50, Anyone?
  9. Schedule Baseline Dilemma Part 1
  10. Schedule Baseline Dilemma Part 2
  11. 4D Scheduling Part 1: What is it about?
  12. 4D Scheduling Part 2
  13. 4D Scheduling Part 3
  14. Mega-Projects Schedule Management and Integration
  15. Scaffolding Hours: What are they? Part 1
  16. Scaffolding Hours: What are they? Part 2
  17. Your World, Our Risk Universe
  18. Rufran Frago in the Global Risk Community Site
Posted in Analysis, Baseline Management, Black Swans, Business, Canadian Politics, Causes and effects, Construction Management, Critical Path, Critical Path Management, Data Assessment, Data Maturity, Decision Making, Deterministic Schedule, E-Touch Up, Economics, Information Maturity, Integrated Schedule, Integration, Issues and Problems, Managing Assumptions, Managing Constraints, Monitoring, Oil Future, Opportunities, Opportunity, Planning and Scheduling, Program Management, Program Schedule, Progress Measurement, Project Management, Reporting, Risk Assessment and Treatment, Risk Relativity, Risk Universe, Risk-based Management, rufran frago, Rufran's Blogs, Threats, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Risk Relativity

For a thief, a good security system is a threat. To a security guard, that same system is an opportunity to lessen the risk of robbery and to increase the chance of catching the thieves.

A person’s perspective depends on which side of the fence he is sitting on. With that in mind, a risk can be a threat or an opportunity. Your business sees a threat and your competitor sees an opportunity. It is as simple as that.

Each individual player within the risk universe will see things a bit differently compared to the next person, with some people interpreting things in exactly the opposite fashion. In each case, the person can see only one attribute.

The simplistic objective point of view is that risk is either a threat or an opportunity, depending on the observer’s orientation to the goal.

If one sits on his most important goal and look at the potential risk, the resultant or prevailing consequence describes whether it is a threat or an opportunity.

Anyone who contemplate risk should consider that threats also bring with it opportunities and opportunities also brings threats.

These are underlining characteristics that all risk practitioners have to remind themselves always. Have you ever heard the saying, “every cloud has a silver lining”?

We can readily conclude that this tested adage found to be true for many centuries is actually a risk-based management concept.

101416-risk-relativity1

Figure 1 – Risk Universe

Now, if we could take an even more macroscopic view of the risk universe as an independent observer, we would be able to see risk from more than one perspective and gain a level of understanding that most of us never thought possible before – that risk is both a threat and an opportunity.

We can see both possibilities existing simultaneously. When we have no stake in the game¸ we can relate to both parties’ positions.

Risk is not absolute, but relative.

If one thinks about it a little deeper, the concept of risk becomes more evident. The risks of threat and opportunity are two sides of the same event. Obviously, events and objectives go hand in hand, as your objectives will depend on how you interpret events.

Using the set theory and imagining risk using a Venn diagram, one might imagine the concept of uncertainty as a big system where risk resides.

Given a singular risk that revolves around a given objective, considering a vast system called uncertainty, the probability of that risk is impossible to measure.

We can calculate the probability of an identified and specific risk because we can appreciate the uncertainty boundary (or field) where the risk lies.

The finite boundary (a small piece of the whole uncertainty system) relevant to the objective is the only useful element in appreciating that risk, a piece of mathematical uncertainty that has practical use. It is the kind of uncertainty with more reliable probabilistic basis.

We’ve all heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, meaning that the perception of beauty is subjective. Similarly, perception of risk is subjective because it is relative. It depends on how one interprets a situation. Duality in this sense points to two kinds of perceptions rather than two intrinsic attributes in one.

figure148

Many writers in the last few centuries have touched on the concepts of relativity and subjectivity when talking about how a person sees their surroundings.

Below, are some phrases about this, but it is up to you to make the comparison between these poetic relationships and people’s perceptions of risk. I thought it would be fun to inject risk’s syllogism and indirect association within some memorable quotes.

In 1588, the English dramatist John Lyly, in his Euphues and His England, wrote: “…as neere is Fancie to Beautie [RISK], as the pricke to the Rose, as the stalke to the rynde, as the earth to the roote.”

Shakespeare expressed a similar sentiment in Love’s Labours Lost, 1598. “Good Lord Boyet, my beauty [RISK], though but mean, / Needs not the painted flourish of your praise: / Beauty [RISK] is bought by judgment of the eye, / Not utter’d by base sale of chapmen’s tongues.”

Benjamin Franklin, in Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1741, wrote, “Beauty [RISK], like supreme dominion is but supported by opinion.”

David Hume’s Essays, Moral and Political, 1742, includes the statement that “Beauty [RISK] in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.”

The person who is widely credited with coining the saying in its current form is Margaret Wolfe Hungerford (née Hamilton), who wrote many books, often under the pseudonym of ‘The Duchess’.

In Molly Bawn (1878), readers will find the following line: “Beauty [RISK] is in the eye of the beholder (The Phrase Finder, 2015).”

Oftentimes, the discussion on subjects such as risk has a tendency to turn into something more esoteric.

When that happens, as a Risk Manager, we should appreciate the brilliance of some people’s individual premises, suppositions, commentaries, and conclusions, for they can add value and substance to what we already know.

Source: Frago, R. (2015). Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective. ISBN 978-0-9947608-0-7 (Canada).Section 1.2

Rufran C. Frago – Author (14-Oct-16)

Related sites:

Related articles authored by Rufran Frago:

  1. Phantom Schedules
  2. Man is the Center of the Risk Universe
  3. Project Schedule Baseline Top 10 Prerequisites
  4. Setting Critical Path
  5. Primer to Good Schedule Integration
  6. Project Schedule: P50, Anyone?
  7. Schedule Baseline Dilemma Part 1
  8. Mega-Projects Schedule Management and Integration
  9. Scaffolding Hours: What are they? Part 1
  10. Your World, Our Risk Universe
Posted in Analysis, Business, Causes and effects, Construction Management, Critical Path, Critical Path Management, Data Assessment, Data Maturity, Decision Making, Deterministic Schedule, E-Touch Up, Economics, Execution Strategy, Information Maturity, Integrated Schedule, Integration, Issues and Problems, Managing Assumptions, Managing Constraints, Monitoring, Opportunity, Planning and Scheduling, Program Management, Program Schedule, Project Management, Quality Management, Reporting, risk, Risk Assessment and Treatment, Risk Relativity, Risk Universe, Risk-based Management, rufran frago, Rufran's Blogs, Threats, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Risk-based Planning and Scheduling Slides (SAIT Presentation)

Posted in Analysis, Baseline Management, Business, Causes and effects, Construction Management, Critical Path, Critical Path Management, Data Assessment, Data Maturity, Decision Making, Deterministic Schedule, E-Touch Up, E-Touch Up Products, Information Maturity, Integrated Schedule, Integration, Issues and Problems, Managing Constraints, Opportunities, Planning and Scheduling, Primavera Administration, Program Management, Program Schedule, Progress Measurement, Project Management, Risk Assessment and Treatment, Risk-based Management, rufran frago, Rufran's Blogs, Schedule Baseline, Threats | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eva’s Flowery Power Leggings : Sunflowers plus one

092516-01100201-leggings-evas-flowery-power1An E-Touch Up Stylish, durable, and a hot fashion staple. These polyester/spandex leggings are made of a comfortable microfiber yarn, and they’ll never lose their stretch.

CAD 65.99

Eva’s Flowery Power is a special brand attuned with nature to send your message. The singular pink flower in the midst of all the sunflowers symbolizes your uniqueness as an individual. You are beautiful… you are a child of the universe!

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Egad! It is the Most Likely Schedule!

Most Likely Schedule, what is it?

It is one of the questions asked more often in risk-based planning and scheduling. Project directors, managers, planners, and schedulers have to know what this term means.

Each time a scheduler tries to explain the concept, he easily gets lost in his own circumlocution. It might be his indirectness compounded by the fact that this particular term shares common but blurred boundaries with some other project and risk management terms.

In view of such difficulties, let us put their words and thoughts on paper so that project practitioners can better understand.

In project management, the Most Likely Estimate is usually an approximate calculation of future quantities (Related topic: Data Maturity, Quality and Project Integration). Estimating the duration of a project is a great example.

However, when you think a little deeper, it can likewise be an appraisal of existing quantities still awaiting definitive measurement. ML is a judgment made of the most likely value, number, and quantity, of something based on logic, source, and rationale.  Estimating the total weight of installed concrete in a given area or the tons of steel in a structure are good examples.

One has to remember that a schedule is a time estimate. It is not the exact actual time value. Experienced professionals try to provide a plausible estimate. Nobody really knows what would be the definitive value.

ML is a value that might be equal, over, short, or within the accepted tolerance of the final value. In reality, a relatively complex project will not execute precisely as planned because of risk (uncertainty) such as estimating flaws, other variables such as resources, site conditions, regulations, assumptions, scheduling constraints, and several others.

“Estimate is an approximation, prediction, or projection of a quantity based on experience and/or information available at the time. It recognizes that other pertinent information is unclear or unknown. An estimate is almost the same as an educated guess, and the cheapest and least accurate type of modeling (Dictionary, 2016) .”

We can describe it as time required to complete an activity based on usual conditions, normal resources, and historical information with no risk under consideration.

In statistic, it is the distribution mode, the time believed “most likely to happen.” It is a point of confusion because the Most Likely Schedule does not denote the mode.

Although the mode is a value representing the statistical most likely, it is a value subsequent to the iteration generated by SQRA. A very bad schedule ranged and iterated will also give a mode. The same is true with a ranged and iterated optimistic and a pessimistic schedule.

Since the Most Likely Schedule also points to the usual agreed-to schedule by the project experts, it is fair to consider it as the realistic most likely project timeline. This initial assessment is mainly from knowledgeable judgment and not through quantitative risk modelling.

Nevertheless, the developed schedule also qualifies as the Most Likely Schedule based on the chosen method of schedule development, expert judgment.

A good understanding of the three-point resulting statistics will improve one’s management aptitude dealing with the traditional project management triangle of cost, schedule, and scope (Wikipedia, 2016).

It is one of the three-point estimates which is based on the duration of the activities, given the resources typically assigned, their productivity, realistic expectations of availability for the activity dependencies on other participants and interruptions  (PMI, 2013).

ML date (or most likely duration) is not the same as expected date (or expected duration). It is but a component of the expected value. With the three point estimates (Triangular or Beta) available, one can calculate the expected duration of an activity, a group of activity, and the whole project’s duration.

Acronyms

BL               =          Baseline

ML              =          Most Likely

PERT          =          Program Evaluation and Review Technique

SBL             =          Schedule Baseline

SRA             =          Schedule Risk Analysis (also called SQRA)

SQRA          =          Schedule Quantitative Risk Analysis

Deterministic Schedule

The deterministic schedule is a schedule that has a singular duration estimate. The word “deterministic” alludes to a schedule with one overall duration and one start and end date. Both the overall schedule and the individual activity that comprise it did not have a probabilistic date range. If used as a baseline, the project targets a singular date each time.

Project estimation providing one duration number for each activity makes it deterministic. In other words, if the schedule has 100 activities, each activity has one estimate associated with it. If the development of the schedule used the attributes of the Most Likely duration, then this deterministic time estimate is also the Most Likely schedule.

All single duration (single estimate) schedules are deterministic. A baseline schedule is deterministic. A target and a most likely schedule are. There should be no confusion there.

In many cases, the project can be more accurate by applying a simple PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) to the deterministic schedule risk model. The final time estimate is a result of an estimating technique that uses a weighted average of three numbers. It is when the project embarks on Schedule Quantitative Risk Analysis through three-point estimating.

Considering the organization’s risk appetite, and the probability of successfully achieving the end deliverables, the project is able to decide what schedule baseline to approve. If probability is too low, the project can choose to change some of its working assumptions and parameters in order to seek improvement. In some cases, it can decide to completely rely on the calculated schedule contingency.

Even in today’s age of Big Data, one of the challenges to estimators is still how to make projects more predictable. It is difficult for them to accept that they are like the weatherman who always gets it wrong; forecasting sun but instead catches rain and hail! Project estimators wanted to increase their batting average for good reasons.

Three-Point Estimates

Historical records showed that in the ‘50s, the US Navy’s Special Projects Office created a program evaluation and review technique (PERT) for complex projects .

“PERT is a project scheduling technique to analyze and represent the tasks involved in completing a given project. It incorporates activity duration variability and relies on similar concepts as the critical path method (Center, 2016).”

It measured distributed values for estimates called optimistic, most likely, and pessimistic. This is where one would trace the project management term “Most Likely” or “ML.”

For example, given the following durations:

Optimistic (O)          = 100 days

Most likely (ML)       = 160 days

Pessimistic (P)           = 250 days

 “These relative values are the subject of discussion when facilitating a risk session or when running schedule risk analysis. Default Most Likely (ML) value of each activity considered is equal to the activity’s remaining duration. The default was borne out of the basic principle of schedule development that calls for the schedule to represent the “most likely.”

It will be beneficial for anyone performing a three-point estimate to review the information and data quality of the following documents: 1) Basis of estimate, 2) Detailed Estimate, and 3) Estimate Summary.

This provides a good understanding on how the duration of an activity or work package came about. It is mandatory that the facilitator is familiar with the estimate, because crosschecking the resource inputs is essential (Frago, R., 2014.Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities.Schedule Quantitative Risk Analysis.p99.ISBN 978-0-9947608-0-7, Canada).”

Depending on the assumed distribution, the below equation will apply.

  1. For Triangular distribution (Figure 1)

Expected duration         =          (Optimistic + ML + Pessimistic)/3

=          [(100+160+250)/3]

=          170 days

Figure 1 – Triangle Distribution Curve

       2. For Beta distribution (Figure 2)

Expected duration         =          (Optimistic + 4ML + Pessimistic)/6

=          [(100+4(160) +250)/6]

=          165 days

Figure 2 – Beta Distribution Curve

Developing the Most Likely Schedule

How the project comes up with the Most Likely Schedule depends on the project objectives, perspectives, and approaches. With the organization aligned to common objectives, with the approved criteria uniformly applied, the ML Schedule should not be too difficult to develop. Enumerated below are recommended approaches on how to develop the Most Likely Schedule.

a) The most likely schedule must satisfy the quality requirement of schedule risk analysis.

b) At any time, the most likely schedule must be the best schedule baseline candidate (Frago, R., 2016.Project Baseline Top Ten Prerequisites.Wordpress.Your World, Our Risk Universe).

It should be the most reliable and economical schedule available.

  • a result of interactive planning
  • Schedule scope shall equal plan scope
  • uses critical path method
  • uses more recent information as foundation
  • Several others (read BL Top 10 prerequisites)

c) Avoid built-in risk in the schedule

  • Assume NO restrictions on all resources
  • Assume high performance teams

Reminder:

Developing the Most Likely Schedule and doing the Schedule Risk Analysis are two distinct processes. The project shall consider risks during schedule risk analysis only to avoid double dipping; i.e. to avoid taking the same risk into account twice (Frago, R., 2014.Brief Introduction to SQRA.Future Sate Analysis.Slideshare.net)

Approaches and Philosophies

In addition to the foregoing, the project can use the following additional approaches and philosophies as guide in the creation, development, and management of their schedules.

  1. Use the most likely deterministic schedule as model in SRA
  2. The deterministic schedule used in SRA is a good BL schedule candidate. This statement depends on the quantified probabilities.
  3. Remove built in (or buffer float) in the schedule risk model.
  4. ‎Unless an effective part of the model, remove dummy activities (or buffer durations) in the schedule risk model.
  5. ‎A most likely schedule is composed of activities with most likely duration. Most likely durations are estimated based on any of the following method:
  • Most current estimate or much better, the approved frozen estimate
  • Expert ‎judgment (in-house or third party experts)
  • Accepted schedule benchmarks (internal and/or external benchmarks)
  • ‎Using historical records (internal and/or external history)
  • Using the P50 schedule calculated from a recently concluded SRA (Frago, R., 2015.Project Schedule:P50, Anyone?.LinkedIn Pulse)

P50 as the Most Likely Schedule

When data population increases, despite the randomness of available variables, the end-result is normal distribution. It is with this concept in mind that a P50 risk-based baseline holds a possible solution against the chance of overrun.

Preventing unachievable schedule is the main concern. In order to develop the P50 baseline, each of the activity making up the sub-projects has to be at a P50. Each of the sub-projects making up the projects portfolio has to be at a P50 as well.

Adjusting the probability of each sub-project schedule is simple. Changing final activity dates to reflect the P50 date is equally easy.

In the past, identifying the right dates and duration to increase achievability is just a wish. This time it is different. The available risk analysis tools these days are available to convert all project activities to a P50 (or if you want, any other probability value, even greater than P50).

The idea of P50 activities supporting other P50 activities to come up with a P50 schedule makes sense. It can potentially make execution less stressful because the target is sound. The target becomes a lot more achievable (Frago, R., 2014.Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities).

Let us say it together, “Egad! It is the Most Likely Schedule!”

Rufran C. Frago – Author (31-Aug-16)

Rufran is the author of the book Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective.

Those who are interested, join Rufran at the following sites:

Related articles authored by Rufran Frago.

  1. Phantom Schedules
  2. Man is the Center of the Risk Universe
  3. Project Schedule Baseline Top 10 Prerequisites
  4. Setting Critical Path
  5. Schedule Critical path
  6. Primer to Good Schedule Integration
  7. Project Schedule: P50, Anyone?
  8. Schedule Baseline Dilemma Part 1
  9. Schedule Baseline Dilemma Part 2
  10. 4D Scheduling Part 1: What is it about?
  11. 4D Scheduling Part 2
  12. 4D Scheduling Part 3
  13. Mega-Projects Schedule Management and Integration
  14. Scaffolding Hours: What are they? Part 1
  15. Scaffolding Hours: What are they? Part 2
  16. Your World, Our Risk Universe
  17. Rufran Frago in the Global Risk Community Site
Posted in Analysis, Baseline Management, Business, Construction Management, Critical Path, Data Assessment, Decision Making, Deterministic Schedule, Economics, Integrated Schedule, Most Likely Schedule, Planning and Scheduling, Program Management, Program Schedule, Project Management, Risk Assessment and Treatment, Risk Universe, Risk-based Management, rufran frago, Rufran's Blogs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Risky Decision: Choosing Daycare

Day Home or Full-pledged Daycare

In Alberta, the Ministry of Human Services is responsible for childcare. Parents are responsible for paying childcare fees. According to the provincial government, the median monthly fee for a two year old is approximately CAD725 in a childcare center and CAD580 in a family day home. See 2014 data of child care fees from the 20 largest cities in Canada for a more detailed look at the breakdown of childcare costs nationally (Reference: Finding Quality Chilcare.ca, 2016.Who is Responsible)

Day Home is the term used for provincially approved facilities according to thirteen (13) standards and typically owned/managed by those who are seeking extra income.

The care for up to six children in private residences is allowed (Day Homes). Providers may accommodate a maximum of six children 0-12 years old including the provider’s own children. A maximum of three children may be 36 months or younger. A maximum of two children may be 24 months or younger (Reference: Family Day Home Standards Manual for Alberta, 2013).

These homes are contracted by agencies that monitor them and perform regular inspections on the province’s behalf. A word of caution: some unscrupulous individuals use the term loosely.

Full-fledged daycares are also provincially licensed but under more demanding criteria. According to some parents, a daycare is very similar to day home but may have more than one attendant at the location and there may be more kids.

Calgary News

NEWS1: “Months ago, Simons told CTV Calgary that the baby was fussy and refused to nap in a playpen, so she was placed in a car seat to sleep, a practice that The Canadian Pediatric Society advises against. McGrath told CTV Calgary in January that he and Gladwell believe their baby girl’s death was preventable.

“Had we been aware she was being put into car seats for naps, we would have yanked her out of there immediately,” said the grieving father.

Gladwell added that she and McGrath had tried to find licensed daycare for their twins, but were unable to due to a shortage of childcare spaces.”

SOURCE: Unlicensed Calgary daycare operator charged with criminal negligence in death of 18-month-old girl (DeHaas, J., August 4, 2016. Unlicensed daycare operator charged in toddler death CTV News)

NEWS2: “The 23-year-old owner of the day home was already facing charges of aggravated assault and failing to provide the necessities of life. The woman was taking care of only the one child at the time of the alleged assault. The day home is now suspended

SOURCE: CBC News, 2010. Alberta tot dies of injury after alleged daycare assault

NEWS3: Crown prosecutor Shane Parker said the twenty-two month (22m) old toddler died at the hands of her caregiver at the time.

A forensic neuropathologist who testified at the caregiver’s preliminary inquiry said the spinal cord injuries “could have been from both shaking and banging the head off of something,” Parker said.

He said the child was fussing during a diaper change “and the application of force was done in an upstairs bedroom by the child caregiver.”

“The injuries were from blunt force trauma from a severe degree of force with multiple impact sites.”

SOURCE: Martin, K., 2015-Nov-16. Caitlin Jarosz pleads guilty to manslaughter in death of Mackenzy Woolfsmith.Calgary Sun\News Calgary

For additional stories, follow the link below

News like the above horrifies and saddens many. It strikes so close to home and to our heart. I could relate to the situation because I am a grandfather and a father. It worries me to no end, thinking of the potential dangers lurking when choosing childcare provider.

It is for this reason that I have written this short write up and news clips for all the parents out there.

While it is not a general rule that unlicensed daycare providers threaten child safety, there is higher probability that it can.

Crystal Clear

“You want to be so sure and so crystal clear about where your child is,” said Don Giesbrecht, the CEO of the Canadian Child Care Federation. He considers a license important. If you’re that good and that confident in what you’re doing, then open yourself up to inspection and monitoring,” he said (Sagan, A., 2013. Should your child attend an unlicensed daycare?.CBCNews\Canada).”

It is always better to learn from the experience of others than to experience the pain yourself. Forewarned is forearmed.

As a Risk-based Management practitioner, what more, a grandfather, I would like to remind all Moms and Dads to be acutely aware of all risk indicators before letting others take care of their precious ones. Be cognizant of warning signs that threatens the safety of your child.

Do not focus too much on your own personal objectives, your targets, or your timelines to accomplish something.

Never equate the risk (threat) to the convenience and freedom daycare brings to your life.

Do not rush into making any decision affecting your child. Think deeply and re-think your priority list!

Best Time in Life

The best time in life is being a Mom and a Dad to your kids in their formative years. Nothing beats that.

It is the best thing in the world. It is way beyond work/job, career development, MBA, Doctorate, Diploma, Certificate, and other accolades. Family is first.

 080516-Deciding Childcare2

Figure 1 – Mother and Child by Rufran Frago (1992), Charcoal

Time has a way of judging, showing the truth of the statement and many have seen it. Many have experienced it. Yet, the realization comes into the fore to many just too late. Reminding those who are about to make a decision that can change lives is a great privilege. Feel within your heart the essence of parent-child ties, the special relationship, and the overall value of this message.

Fooled by False Sense of Security

Do not be fooled by false sense of safety and security. Such feeling is typical after establishing a recent connection or acquaintance via network or an informal introduction.

Be highly observant of everything. Do your assignment. Dig deeper! Ask question!

If possible, do not leave your child for relatively long time with anyone. Be highly calculating and prudent. Identify the nuances of a good decision from a bad decision.

Risk Factor

Risk factor (threat) is inversely proportional to the child’s age. It is higher when babies cannot speak yet or just starting to speak (less than 2 years old).

They will not be able to tell you their bad and/or good experience. You will never know exactly what transpired despite your great talent in interpreting baby talk. The future and well-being of your gems while away from you is one hundred percent in those other person’s hands.

Be safety conscious always for the sake of the kids. Exert the best effort to preserve their safety.

When Daycare and Day Home Becomes Unavoidable

If parents cannot avoid sending their babies to Daycare/Childcare due to pressing needs to earn a living for the family, here are the suggested Top Five Criteria to use when picking a Childcare provider:

1)     Well-experienced, licensed, all the caregiver staffs have CPR /First Aid Certification with good moral character and no criminal records. It should be mandatory and first on the list of prerequisites. This requirement is part of your safety checklist. It will increase your confidence and trust.

If they pushed back when asked, consider it is one of the red flags. Move on. They are a dangerous bunch and not worth your time!

080516-Deciding Childcare4.png

Figure 2 – Unlicensed Daycare Statistics (CBCNews, 2013)

Unlicensed provider leaves parents in the dark about their qualifications as can be gleaned from the above graph (Figure 2). Licensed providers bring certainty to the question of competence.

Count the men and women in the place including non-staff residents. Ask for proof of competencies and background certificates. Show how aware, caring, and vigilant you are.

Observe body language, language, tone and make proper interpretation. How is the caregiver’s language proficiency?

Are they patient, likeable, amiable, child friendly, businesslike, stiff, cold, and others? You know what I mean! This is the opportunity to talk with whoever is running the place.

Be gregarious and a good detective at the same time. The information you gather will help in the final decision.

As the old saying goes, “A fish is caught by its mouth.”

Never leave your precious babies in an unlicensed daycare facility. Without proper government inspection and vetting, it is an unsafe place where even acceptable crosscheck and control is not possible.

Regardless of what the unlicensed Owner say, think thrice before deciding. Commitment is different sales talk. In business law, it is smoke puffed in the air, commonly described as sales talk. Do not ever construe such statement as an agreement to a contract.

A loving and conscientious Mom and Dad must spend enough time in the selection process to ensure their child is in good hand.

Try to visit the place more than once before registering. Listen to you inner parental instinct. If you have doubt, it means NO! Disregarding the inner message can lead to heartache.

2)     Complete child-safe facility with a program (not just looking after the child, they have to still feel the family warmth and closeness, and learning). Assess the general safety of the neighborhood. Assess the building, ingress and egress, the room, fire escape, the food, toys, art supplies, security, etc. It is not that simple. Don’t treat your child like a pet dog you can tie to a post, expecting everything will be fine.

Think about this example.

If you leave your baby in an unfriendly environment three days a week for a month, you practically robbed your babies almost two full happy weeks from their formative years. It is an important gap from your direct care and supervision. It can either build or damage a child’s disposition for life.

Child safety is first whether it be a licensed or unlicensed facility (Additional reading: CBC News, 2016.Caleb Charbonneau, 13 months old, dies after choking at Gatineau, Que., daycare).

3)     Has good daycare giving policy

I am sure that parents generally don’t want their child playing with an i-pad, a cellphone, a computer or watching TV all day while the caregivers take it easy. This scenario is more common than we think. Your child needs to continuously develop positively while in daycare.

4)     The Daycare or Day Home should be highly recommended by at least three parents/clients who have already availed of the childcare services.

5)     Go through the additional checklist: Eight Tips of Choosing a daycare.

Reflection

Not intended to put any additional burden to the already heavy hearts of the victim’s parents but those tragedies were avoidable and preventable.

“The small choices they made were practically insignificant decisions yet the impact is life itself. What is greater than avoiding a threat to one’s very existence? No money can equal survival! (Frago, R., 2016.Man is the Center of the Risk Universe\Small Decision, Big Consequence?\LinkedIn Pulse).

The government (federal, provincial, and city) should put more rigors to the policy governing daycare services. They should absolutely ban any childcare business operating without a license. It will mitigate the threat to life and health of the children, bring more income to the government, and improve caregiving commitment.

May all who read the reminder be guided accordingly to a right decision and not look back in remorse for what could have been.

Parents have to protect them who need it most, their own child.

 

RUFRAN C. FRAGO, P. Eng., PMP®, CCP, PMI-RMP® (080516)

Rufran is the author of the book Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective.

Those who are interested, join Rufran at the following sites:

Related articles authored by Rufran Frago.

  1. Man is the Center of the Risk Universe
  2. Risks as a Function of Time
  3. Your World, Our Risk Universe
  4. Rufran Frago in the Global Risk Community Site
  5. Earthquakes, Super Typhoons and Fundamentals of RBM
  6. Risks as a Function of Time
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Posted in Analysis, Business, Causes and effects, Childcare, Data Assessment, Day Home, Daycare, Decision Making, Issues and Problems, Managing Assumptions, Monitoring, Risk Assessment and Treatment, Risk Universe, rufran frago, Rufran's Blogs, Threats, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hold your breath! These are Phantom Schedules!

Construction planner and scheduler Frank Lee was at it again. He was in the process of creating and developing another phantom project schedule for the Project Control Manager. The initiative started when the Project Manager complained to the Project Controls Manager.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he said, “… this schedule forecast and progress report is garbage! It has been almost a year and their report still does not make much sense.”

“Can you see the pattern? They were just multiplying all commodity quantities, reporting progress using a common factor! It is a piece of crap! It is completely useless!”

Frank has heard this kind of talk many times in his life as a professional scheduler and he guessed it right what comes next. The PC Manager, Mike Itright, called him into his office. He looks serious and sullen.

“Frank, as you probably know, we have ongoing issues with the contractor’s construction schedule. It is not reliable.”

“We need to develop a more reliable schedule we could throw our hats into,” Mike opening the conversation.”

“How about the current and baseline schedules that the contractor is working on? Would not we create a contention point that could end up in dispute? Maybe, even litigation if we are not careful?” Frank opined.

“Don’t worry. We will not let them know that we have such a schedule. This is our own secret tool to validate the schedule forecast they submit to us. We will catch them if they are actually making a fool of us.”

“We will not share our scheduling information to anyone of them. We have to be on top of this. We have to stop this contractor from playing around. We know what is going on. I need you to start on this right away!” Mike continues.

Project Management Jargon

Before we proceed further, let us discuss some special words and expressions used in the planning and scheduling profession. These terminologies are not new to the practitioners but can be difficult to understand by beginners.

Figure 1 – Phantom Schedule

  • A phantom schedule (ghost schedule) is a non-official schedule prepared behind the official scheduling scene. Commonly used as an audit tool to validate or crosscheck the contract schedule.

I got used referring to the schedule as phantom schedule instead of ghost because of a British friend of mine. While working in an oil installation in Africa, we got involved with one and he kept referring to it as phantom schedule.

To his credit, the literal definition of the word phantom fits perfectly which is – “an illustration, part of which is given a transparent effect so as to permit representation of details otherwise hidden from view (Dictionary.com, 2016.Phantom).” This type of schedule has received multiple names in the construction industry through the years.

In this article, we will use the term phantom schedule interchangeably with ghost schedule, validation schedule, crosscheck schedule, parallel schedule, audit schedule, and background schedule.

It means that the soundness of the current contract schedule can be validated using the phantom schedule as the backdrop.

The timing of its creation can be anywhere between project start date to completion. The urgency governing its creation depends largely on the specific purpose and necessity to which it was created.

Caution: A manager must understand clearly what he is trying to embark into. Many actions brought by dissatisfaction and discontent that leads to heartache were borne from not understanding the process in place.  It is between ignorance and arrogance that the landscape of mutual understanding change colors. A scheduling dilemma ensues next.

  • A contract schedule is the legal and official project schedule from which all reports and progress shall be based from

It comes in two forms: 1) the current contract schedule (contract forecast schedule) and 2) contract baseline schedule.

“Now, the fun begins. It gets even more exciting when two opposing poles get near each other debating project change notices and non-compliance reports. Arguments usually boil down to the definition of a schedule baseline and the right way to manage it. If there is no governing prior agreement, it becomes difficult to reconcile, as the expected answer has to satisfy both clients and contractors (or whichever party is involved). The perennial argument revolving around schedule baseline management is probably as old as when the term was first coined. It is sad to detect that many, especially project managers just kept on missing the points of control (Frago, R., 2016.Schedule Baseline Dilemma Part 1).”

Purpose of a Phantom Schedule

A client or contractor may develop it individually with each one, believing that it is more reliable than the current official schedule and/or the existing baseline.

Construction contractor can come up with a more aggressive version of the contractual schedule to create some form of relief time zones. It creates some form of time buffer zones by using earlier schedule plan dates. The sub-contractor then sign on a more optimistic schedule with the contractor.

The contractor hides the already optimistic phantom schedule for background update. At this point, and just on the contractor-subcontractor side alone, there are already four schedules at play and being maintained separately; i.e. 1) subcontract  schedule, 2) subcontract phantom schedule, 3) contractor phantom schedule, and 4) contract schedule.

A recent technical article rightly stated the same thing, that one of the reasons why a phantom schedule is developed is “when the client no longer has any faith that the contractor’s contract schedule submittals are realistic (Beisler, S. & Zack, J., 2016.Cost Engineering. May\Jun 2016. p21).

Risks: Opportunities

The phantom schedule addresses the concerns of client and/or contractor that the contract forecast schedule (current) versus contract schedule (baseline) are no longer useful in making project decisions.

To each one, the phantom schedule represents their in-house assessment of the execution plan, strategy, sequencing, and time estimate they could live with.

It provides them the confidence that they now have a current schedule with a realistic forecast that fits squarely into their company objectives. They now have a schedule that makes sense and leads to good, sound, and effective decisions.

Note however, that this is an opportunity usually appreciated only by the sponsoring organization and not by all stakeholders (see threats).

“A person’s perspective depends on which side of the fence they are sitting on. With that in mind, a risk can be a threat or an opportunity. Your business sees a threat and your competitor sees an opportunity. It is as simple as that.

Each individual player within the risk universe will see things a bit differently compared to the next person, with some people interpreting things in exactly the opposite fashion (Frago, R., 2015.Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities.p3. ISBN 978-0-9947608-0-7 Canada)”

  • It is believed to help increase the probability of desired outcome from happening. It helps to make effective management decisions. It enhances consequence, providing a good handle of the future. It can assist in schedule enhancement such as acceleration, resource optimization, and just-in-time what-if analysis.
  • Managers believe it will help prevent/avoid, and mitigate risks. Good forecast provides a good handle of the threatening future. Presents an opportunity to act in advance of what will happen. It can assist in schedule analysis such as delay analysis, resource analysis/leveling, and time impact analysis.

Risks: Threats

Although more common than anyone thinks, it is not surprising how astonish the other party seems to learn that the schedule was being analyzed for months not using a common schedule.

Interpretation is in the mind and eyes of the beholder: “It is a document intending to highlight a brewing distrust and subterfuge of one contracting parties, easily viewed as an insult, if not a slap to the contractor or client’s intellect and integrity,” someone commented.

If one makes the mistake of openly using the phantom schedule as a contrast tool versus the contract schedule in any client-contractor update/progress meeting, the contention will start and might eventually gravitate to long standing debates, arguments, disputes, work stoppage, and ultimately, claims and litigation.

The aforementioned is a certainty unless resolved quickly by levelheaded leaders, perhaps through an acceptable realignment proceedings, a schedule re-baseline, or, though highly unlikely, acquiescence by one of the contending party.

Figure 2 – Phantom Schedule can be a point of Contention

Warning: A phantom schedule can work against its proponents in the end if sponsors are not careful.

Ghost schedule removes time management focus from the officially approved contractual schedule. Complications start when this happen.

Client cannot effectively use the phantom schedule in officially discussing path forward with the contractor. It is not an acceptable driver to get the contractor going another way. After all, this schedule does not exist.

In view of this limitation, the strategy is to use the weight of the contract schedule. Analyze it using the gleaned driving information from the phantom schedule and identify the gaps in the contract schedule. Use questioning attitude to point flaws to the current contract schedule and request changes more attuned to what the phantom schedule prescribed.

This is the only viable and more acceptable way. Everyone still has to use the contract schedule as the working schedule in all matters of planning, forecast, and progress to avoid adversity and ill feelings.

Secrecy overtakes transparency and works against the concept of integration. This is a dark cloud. It grew from the seed of distrust so it is something that will work against good contractual relationship. An adversarial relationship looms on the horizon!

“The use of integrated data helps the project to identify potential risk/s. The mere mention of integrated data underlines correlation; i.e. we have to associate correctly one datum to the next, or one set of information to the others, for them to be of value.

That can prove rather impossible when we have nothing to start with. Remember, it is a secret schedule!

How do one start working on something he does not know? The executing party can only begin to scratch the surface of knowledge once knowing starts (Frago, R., 2015.Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities.p18. ISBN 978-0-9947608-0-7 Canada).”

Typical attributes of a phantom schedule

  1. Secret (unknown to the other contracting party)
  2. Simplified version of the contract schedule
  3. Considered more reliable and accurate

Figure 3 – Typical Attributes of a Phantom Schedule

  4. Viewed as a validation schedule that provides better forecasts5.

  5. Updated in the background by sponsoring party

6. Decision-making tool by sponsoring party. Management decisions are no longer based on the forecast of the current contract schedule.

7. It is an auditing tool; i.e. to check soundness of the current contract schedule using the phantom schedule as the backdrop.

8. Located in a separate scheduling database

9. Access to the scheduling database is restricted

10. All phantom schedule users are sworn to secrecy

Developing a Phantom Schedule

  1. Confirm the purpose of the specific phantom schedule in this case
  2. Prepare an engagement plan. Plan the plan. Provide timeline of team review
  3. Identify the level of details needed from the sponsor/s (idea generators)
  4. Identify and connect with your in-house EPC/C&SU experts, senior planners, and estimators and schedule to sit down with them interactively, preferably in a group setting.

Figure 4 – Developing a Phantom Schedule (Frago, R., 2016)

    5. Creation of our scheduling workspace in a Primavera database

  • Creation of EPS/OBS nodes for the main work space
  • Creation of other EPS/OBS nodes for all other reference schedules
  • Identify all expert resources who will give inputs to the validation schedule
  • Create the WBS framework

6. Get the latest copy of the current contract schedule and the corresponding baseline schedule. Import the file and all necessary attributes into the newly created workspace (see item 2- Section: Developing a Phantom Schedule)

7. Establish the reckoning data date. Start with the data date from the current contract schedule.

8. Create, development, and finalize the phantom schedule

  • Review execution plan and path of construction (POC)
  • Align all fundamental scheduling attributes to the contractual agreement; e.g. calendars, resources, priorities, WBS, Key Milestones, key interfaces, and others.
  • Series of meetings, interactions, expert’s inputs and review
  • Involve select resources especially the commissioning and start-up experts
  • Review WBS scope, calendars, durations, POC, sequences, roll ups, critical path, system priorities, commissioning requirements, etc.
  • Bring schedule to a level of reliability acceptable to sponsors and in-house experts
  • Check and improve to an acceptable schedule quality. Adjust the schedule as needed.
  • Identify variances to existing contractual baseline
  • Evaluate what makes sense and what did not
  • Submit a final report
  • Orient dedicated planner & scheduler to the schedule together with the sponsors; i.e. PC Manager, Project Manager and in-house specialists
  • Turnover the schedule to the responsible project scheduler who will maintain the schedule going forward

Rufran C. Frago – Author (26-Jul-16)

Disclaimer: The names used in this write up are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

Rufran is the author of the book Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective.

Related sites:

Related articles authored by Rufran Frago.

  1. Man is the Center of the Risk Universe
  2. Project Schedule Baseline Top 10 Prerequisites
  3. Setting Critical Path
  4. Schedule Critical path
  5. Primer to Good Schedule Integration
  6. Project Schedule: P50, Anyone?
  7. Schedule Baseline Dilemma Part 1
  8. Schedule Baseline Dilemma Part 2
  9. 4D Scheduling Part 1: What is it about?
  10. 4D Scheduling Part 2
  11. 4D Scheduling Part 3
  12. Risks as a Function of Time
  13. Mega-Projects Schedule Management and Integration
  14. Scaffolding Hours: What are they? Part 1
  15. Scaffolding Hours: What are they? Part 2
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Posted in Analysis, Baseline Management, Business, Causes and effects, Construction Management, Decision Making, Execution Strategy, Integrated Schedule, Integration, Issues and Problems, Monitoring, Opportunities, P6 Issues, Planning and Scheduling, Progress Measurement, Project Management, Quality Management, Reporting, Risk Assessment and Treatment, Risk Universe, Risk-based Management, rufran frago, Rufran's Blogs, Schedule Baseline, Threats, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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