Project e-Tip of the Week: In this week's Project e-Tip I suggest project managers/leaders adopt an emergent approach to planning and delivering their projects. I contrast an emergent approach with the approach of operating to a fixed baseline plan. Most projects are neither fully emergent or fixed to an original plan. We all know that. However, it doesn't keep us from measuring and reporting to a baseline. Nor does it keep us from wanting to deliver the project the way we conceived it to be. Let the pendulum swing towards an emergent approach. Let's stop fighting with the uncertainty and unknowability of the future. We can't win.
How might we go about "unfolding" a project as it progresses? How does the project emerge as it executes? In my view, this is exactly where risk and uncertainty come into play. Go ahead and create the baseline project, but then be ready for that baseline to shift as you round first and head for second, and again as you head toward third. One the way to home, you might have something completely different on your hands. New circumstances always arise that cannot be known in advance.
One might look at critical chain project management as being geared toward this. In traditional PM, individual tasks take longer or shorter than expected, and these changes impact the overall project. But with a critical chain view, the focus moves away from the completing activities per the baseline and towards doing those things which help the overall project succeed.