The Importance of ‘Why’

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.

Project management is a complex discipline. There are a lot of elements to it, and very few of those elements are black and white—most have significant shades of grey. Organizations try to eliminate some of that uncertainty by creating standard methodologies and processes, creating a consistent approach to how projects are managed.

For new project managers, these structured approaches can be a huge benefit. They provide a framework the PM can rely on without having to think too much, freeing them up to focus on areas where they can add value to the project and team.

However, there is also a danger for new project managers from these approaches. Approaches that can be followed without too much thought often result in just that—not much thought. As a result, new project managers follow a process without understanding why they are doing so, how it benefits the project, or even whether they should be doing something different.

Sure, the theory is that the process represents the best approach the PM should take, but in reality, there are often compromises that risk creating a one-size-fits-none solution. At the very least, PMs should be consciously thinking about whether they need to adjust the approach for the unique situation they are facing. New PMs don’t have the experience to know when they need to make those adjustments; to figure that out they need …

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"If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time--a tremendous whack."

- Winston Churchill

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