Project Management

Sometimes, Sidestepping a Problem Is the Answer

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 [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

When I think of project problem solving, I have this mental image of the PM and team rolling up their sleeves and preparing to do battle with the problem in front of them until it is beaten into submission. Then the image morphs to the team giving each other high fives before returning to their assigned tasks and getting on with the “normal” work of the project until the next problem is identified.

Now, maybe that says something about the state of my mind, but it’s something that most PMs can probably relate to. We’re used to dealing with every problem head on.

But I don’t think that’s the correct approach, especially in today’s world where things are changing so quickly and the way work is being delivered is becoming ever more flexible. I believe that a significant number of the problems faced by projects can, perhaps should, be sidestepped. But I don’t think many project managers are embracing that approach yet.

Optimizing value
Let’s start by taking a step back. Projects are only undertaken to achieve value—to improve some element of the business. That value can be measured in a number of different ways, but it fundamentally comes down to the fact that the project has to give more back to the business (or allow the business to achieve more) than is consumed in doing the work.

This idea of value has …


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It's the old gag: people that pay for things never complain. It's the guy you give something to that you can't please.

- Will Rogers