Charting Project Direction

Jim Harris

As sea captains and aviators use charts of the sea and the sky to ensure that navigation is true to their planned course, the project manager must maintain the project direction and planned course to ensure a successful conclusion of the project. Maintaining the project’s direction has—and will continue to be—a constant pull on the project reins of the project manager. Scope creep tries to raise its head at every turn. Senior management and stakeholders generate and demand additional ideas of how to enhance the end deliverable with requests to incorporate their ideas as the project progresses.

“What about time, cost, quality and scope that was discussed when this project was thought of?” you ask. The answer is something like: “Why not? The project isn’t that far along, and it is better to do this change now than wait until later. Why bother with a follow-on project? Let’s do it now!”

WHOA! Time out! Does anyone remember what the original defined project was?

Have you ever attended a project closeout meeting that had major problems, only to hear someone say, “We should have spent more time planning!” ?

Inadequate definition and planning of a project is the most common project management mistake that leads to project difficulties, if not complete project failure.

In my article, The Metamorphosis of Project Management, I discussed a process of strategic planning by all levels…

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"When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge."

- Albert Einstein