Risk Management Case Study Assignment

  1.   Once upon a time, NASA was known for its safety record, ensured by things like double and triple redundant systems.  They had backup systems in place, wouldn’t take unnecessary risks, and so forth.  However, as everyone is all too familiar with, two space shuttles have crashed with the loss of the entire crew.  What happened?  You may choose either space shuttle disaster (Columbia or Challenger), or may compare and contrast them and do a case study of both.


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  1. 2.    As everyone knows, the BP (AKA British Petroleum) “Maconda” deep drill rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded and sank in Spring 2010 with loss of life.  What happened?

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  1. 3.    Consider Napoleon’s campaign in Russia during the Napoleonic Wars c.1812.  Napoleon started out from France with a huge and supposedly “invincible” army, but after a brutal campaign in Russia, retreated, defeated.  It was a turning point in the war.  From a risk management point of view, what happened?

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  1. 4.    Consider the initial Healthcare.gov Web site and information system that went public on 1.October.2013, but that was so poorly designed and tested that essentially nobody could use it.  Additionally, it had significant privacy and security issues.

In both the NASA and BP cases, as in the Toyota case below, operations ceased for a time after the disaster while an investigation and remedial action was taken.  In the case of Healthcare.gov, they tried to investigate and fix the system on the fly without taking it down. Napoleon, of course, retreated.  He must have wondered what had happened, too.

What happened in these cases and how does it relate to project risk management?

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