The first temptation many project managers must overcome is the tendency to start work before the goals are clear. A smidge of planning, a pinch of risk mitigation and a dash of clear roles and responsibilities can put you head and shoulders above most of your peers.
Common sense says that when working on a project with results that really matter, one should agree on a plan of how to achieve the goals, consider what might go wrong, and make sure everyone who needs to deliver results is committed to doing what needs to be done to make it happen. However, here’s a bit of news about the real world of project management: Common sense isn’t common practice. It’s not even common knowledge! It’s so obvious that people think, “It goes without saying.” Well, my experience says, nothing goes without saying.
Planning never feels like the right thing to do when there is a mountain of work to be done and you’re already late. Projects routinely suffer from under-planning. Executives seem incapable of imagining what might go wrong. Even teams that do take the time to identify risk usually don’t lift a finger to prevent