Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance
This simple phrase describes the core behavior of all project related work. For any platitude to survive contact with reality, it must be true, actionable, and applicable in your own domain.
The notion that “emergence” is the driver for the participants in a project requires careful consideration. The technical or business requirements of the outcomes of the project are always “emergent” in some form. To be otherwise would require a preset group of activities, materials, technology, and personnel.
Failing to understand the subtleties of the continuous emergence of requirements, that enable the capabilities to be delivered, means failing to understand any project requires planning to deal with these emerging requirements. This emergence also pertains to the tools and processes used to manage and deliver the project. emergence is applicable to all elements.
Preparing for Emergence is a critical success factor in project work. Proper preparation is the foundation of programmatic and technical risk management. This means asking and answering the “if – than” question, rather than the “what – if” question.
Managing in the presence of emergence requires directed decision making. Just letting things happen disconnects the outcomes of the project from the neeed capabilities produced by the project. These capabilities are the immutable part of the business process. They can only change, when the strategy for the success of the business enabled by the project changes. To do otherwise, would be to disconnect between the investment in the project and the value produced by the project.
“If – Than” means knowing what can go wrong and how to respond to the following:
- Variation – comes from small influences to the project work and technology within the bounds of normal variances. Attempting to manage these variations is usually a waste of time. Instead knowing the boundaries of these variations and providing “margin” for them in the cost, schedule, and technical performance domains is proper preparation.
- Foreseen Uncertainty – are identifiable influences on the project that may or may not occur. Alternative plans are needed to respond to these foreseen uncertainties.
- Unforeseen Uncertainty – are influences that cannot be identified during the project. These are sometimes called “unknowns unknowns.” Since there is no Plan B, a no Plan all together is needed.
- Chaos – are events that have influenced the project before the project started. The very definition of a project is a set of stable drivers – requirements, stakeholders, technologies, processes.