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Quantum Risk

Computer scientists at Queen’s University have developed a new form of chess in which players (including computers) can’t identify a chess piece until they move it. They call it Quantum Chess, and it’s amazing because taking the knowledge of the piece out of the equation actually makes the combination of potential moves incalculable – without being able to project movements based on piece locations, a computer can’t rule out any possible moves, thereby making the total possibilities nearly infinite. You can check out the whole story here.

The story caught my eye because I think it’s so similar to risk management strategies of today. How often do organizations actually know enough about their risks to predict the potential outcomes? Queen’s University worked very hard to take measurement out of the chess equation. We often don’t work hard at all to bring measurement to the project risk equation – as a result, both of our outcomes are pretty much the same: unpredictable.

Fortunately for us, we don’t actually have to work as hard as the CS folks at Queen’s to bring measurement to IT projects. For us, a little bit of measurement can go a long way. Even without a firm plan, collecting data will yield a positive result – although you’re better off with a plan if you want to get better ROI on that data. But the fact of the matter is, even some very simple project performance baselining will help you start to predict how similar projects may perform in the future – which is exactly how the early chess playing computer designs started.

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