Are PMs Too Risk Averse to Be Innovators?

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

If you ask stakeholders what they are looking for in project management, you will likely hear things like consistency, stability, reliability and predictability. Regardless of whether the project is being managed using agile, waterfall or hybrid techniques, stakeholders want to feel as though they know how the project will be run—and that the approach will be based on “playing the percentages” to provide the best chance of success. Innovation is not traditionally a friend of project management.

Some of you may argue that point with agile, but agile is actually an excellent example of what I mean. In agile projects, there is ample opportunity for innovation in the development of the solution that is the output of the project—but the project structure and approach could barely be more predictable. Think of sprints of a defined length that are always the same and always end on a predefined date, or standup meetings that occur at the same time every day to review progress, or a defined role that exists (in part) to ensure the team is executing on agile principles correctly, etc. While the work is highly adaptable—and yes, innovative—the way that work is structured and executed is based on a well-defined, well-proven structure.

Yet now there is a lot of talk about innovation in project delivery. ProjectManagement.com has dedicated this month…

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