Project Management

Listen to What You Cannot See

PMI United Kingdom Chapter

Ian Whittingham, PMP is director of Calixo Consulting, providing project and program management expertise from initiation through to implementation, covering business transformation, workflow process re-engineering, and enterprise data integration. He is a regular contributor to ProjectManagement.com. You may contact Ian directly at CalixoConsultingLtd@gmail.com.

Stop. Look. Listen. A formula for safety, learned as an infant, when crossing the road. But that three-step process is almost a life lesson in itself, one that any project manager, whether seasoned or novice, can learn from. At its heart is a simple but important imperative: “Pay attention! Your safety depends on it.

Life is full of events that may endanger us. Projects, as a part of (our) life, are no different. But those dangers--or risks, as project managers call them--may not be as easy to detect as the ones lurking unseen around street corners when crossing the road. But we can become aware of their presence if we listen for them with the right kind of attentiveness.

Be more attentive
Arrest. Gather. Focus. Whoever formulated the Stop-Look-Listen mantra for crossing the road understood the fundamental aspects of human cognition, of how we take in sensory data and turn it into information we can then use to make decisions in risky environments.

Stop. The first step prepares us by arresting our attention. We must stop whatever we are doing and attend to the present moment. The act of stopping is a demarcation, a conscious action that detaches us from the distraction of current preoccupation. It primes us for the next step.

Look. This is the process of gathering information, information we will use to arrive at a decision and determine whether to …


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