I am sure that most, if not all, project managers have been in a project planning session with the project sponsor that’s said ‘I’ll know it when I see it.’ When you see ‘WHAT’? Is it larger than a bread box? Does it require hardware and/or software? The nemesis of Project Management and in turn, many a project manager, is ambiguity.
Ambiguity produces confusion, ‘What am I supposed to deliver?’, and is a cause for many a failed project. Scope creep, missed milestones, increased costs, improper use of resources can all be attributed to ambiguity. And yes, Houdini, the project manager is expected to magically spot and ‘abracadabra’, make ambiguities disappear. Ambiguity is a killer for projects in any organization.
As project managers, we need to realize that some degree of ambiguity exists in every project. We only know what we know. Today we know some things with absolute certainty and tomorrow we will know even more. But we are planning the project today. So in essence, the project plan is nothing more than a best guess based on the adequacy of existing information.
What needs to be emphasized, and it seems especially true with executives and company leaders, is that project managers or the application of project management techniques, doesn’t include consulting a crystal ball giving project managers a portal into the future. As we progress through the project life cycle, we gain more knowledge about the ‘end result’ and are better able to explore solutions.
Since ambiguity is natural to projects, what does the project manager have to do to reduce ambiguity and begin to discover clarity? Clarity that will allow project managers to make good decisions, based on knowledge and expertise that exists within their organization. Solid project planning. The better we can plan our projects, the better we can manage the difficulty and complexity that ambiguity adds to the initiative.
If it is taking you longer than a few days to develop your project plan, you need to attend a Kindling Project Planning Workshop. This 3-day interactive workshop will give you the tools to blast away the ambiguity that threatens to derail your projects. You owe it to yourself and your project success to learn more. Visit the Kindling website at: http://www.iasinc.net/solutions/kindling
© 2011 Gwen Miller. All Rights Reserved