Project Management

How Extreme Project Management Is Different

Doug is the author of the landmark book, Extreme Project Management®: Using Leadership, Principles and Tools to Deliver Value in the Face of Volatility. He works with clients who undertake projects in very demanding environments: those settings that feature high speed, high change, high unpredictability and high stress. Doug has lived in the trenches—from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to Beijing, China—with over 275 project teams with budgets that ranged from $25,000 to over $25 million. He is one of the founders of the Agile Leadership Network, an organization dedicated to connecting, developing and supporting great project leaders. He is known for his hard-hitting and humorous keynote speeches that address vital issues facing today’s project-based organizations. You can visit Doug at

Extreme project management is different because extreme projects are different.
Traditional vs Extreme Projects
Compared to extreme projects, traditional projects are slow and stable. They lend themselves to orderly planning. The goal of traditional project management is to produce the planned result. That’s because, in traditional project management, we believe that we can know enough in advance to produce a correct plan. That’s why the plan drives the project.
Extreme projects require a different mindset. We recognize that we cannot know enough in advance to produce a detailed plan. That’s because the end result is often unclear and will evolve as we learn more. Moreover, even if we did have a solid picture of the end result, the path to get there may be untried or complex: e.g., working with new combinations of technology and systems.
That’s why extreme projects tend to be disorderly and messy. Moreover, speed is often a necessity, as in beating a competitor to market or meeting a government-imposed deadline.
As such, extreme projects have a high unpredictability factor and need to constantly adjust to change. That’s why innovation is at a premium. Extreme projects happen while plans are being made. That doesn’t mean we don’t plan; rather, we do just-in-time planning. Unlike traditional project management which strives to give the customer the planned …

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