Embracing the Twists and Turns in Project Management
Surprises can be frustrating, but they often come with big opportunities.
Title: Challenging Classic Project Management: Turning Project Uncertainties into Business Opportunities (Fee or subscription required)
Authors: Thomas G. Lechler (Stevens Institute of Technology), Barbara H. Edington (St. Francis College), and Ting Gao (Stevens Institute of Technology)
Interesting article on managing uncertainty:
When companies take on major projects, unexpected hitches are inevitable. But this paper finds there’s often a silver lining to surprises, even those that first appear to be setbacks. The trick is for managers to recognize their potential for opportunity. In fact, when firms exploit uncertainties during a project development cycle, they typically boost the end value of the initiative far beyond initial expectations.
Researchers and managers alike have long lumped together uncertainties and risks as pernicious threats to a project’s likelihood of success. But this traditional view of project management ignores the positive potential inherent in uncertainties—the “unknown unknowns” that aren’t anticipated prior to a project’s launch, as opposed to the known risks that can and should be gauged beforehand and factored in.
To better untangle the effects of the unknown from known risks, and to explore how companies can take advantage of the curveballs that come their way, the authors of this paper conducted in-depth interviews with the project managers responsible for 20 major initiatives...
....... Uncertainties, the authors found, can be grouped into six primary types.
• Contextual turbulence: external changes set off by shifts in the markets, for example, or new legal or regulatory rules
• Stakeholder fluctuations: shifts in the fortunes of customers, vendors, investors, and others
• Technological uncertainty: factors that can affect the functionality of products in different markets, among other challenges
• Project uncertainty: unrecognized complexities that crop up after a project has started
• Organizational uncertainty: ripple effects from unexpected corporate mergers or spin-offs, for example
• Malpractice: significant deviations from accepted project management standards