Posted by: Gilad Lev-Shamur | September 29, 2009

Project’s unexpected: change as a way of life for today PM

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A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.

(Sir Winston Churchill)

The idea for this post was always in the back of my head, but two sources I read in the last days finally drive me to publish it. The first one was Thomas L. Friedman book “The world is flat” and the second one was a discussion I participated at the Project Manager Networking Group in LinkedIn: “How Do You Get Rid of Blind Spots on Your Project?” initiated by Jennifer Whitt.

The connection between these two sources and my post is: change and the way we accept it. Let me explain.

 In his book, Thomas L. Friedman describes the globalization forces in our world, how everything started, to what it caused and how we should act in order to succeed. One of the things I took from it, is that in our world you should always be aware to the changes in the environment (no meter what), adjust yourself and not fight it.

The LinkedIn discussion deal with the subject of recognizing blind spots in our projects. Most of the discussion was on the risk management activities, which their target is to reduce surprises, and to make sure we will succeed to finish the project  in spite of all the changes we might face during its life cycle.

I will try to summaries it: changes happen. Despite all our preparations, things we did not anticipated, or if we have luck, things we have well documented risk mitigation plans for them will pop up.  When we start working in this business we should always accept the unexpected, be ready to change our plans and do it as a way of life.  

As mention above, good preparation will improve our reactions. Risk mitigation activities should do it. By identifying potential risks, preparing the mitigation plan and so on, you raise your chances. But even a risk which was identified in advance and become real will cause to change. We can be ready for it, but it’s still a change.

One basic quality we, as PMs, and our project team members should have, is the ability to work in changing environment. Its does not matter whether the change s dramatic and take the project to another direction (customer change of scope for example) or it’s a small change which require just drawings updates and so on. It’s more from just keeping the moral. It’s a state of mind. We do not desire for change, but we accept it. Do not fight it.

So how we can improve our mental behavior to work properly in this environment (economic, political, etc) ? How we can do that in today tight schedule  projects, which in addition might have indecisive customer that change his mind over and over? I have few suggestions:

  • Risk management – this is the basics. Before handling the mental behavior, treat the technical issues.
  • Empower your team– by showing your team you counting on them to take decisions by themselves, you build their confidence to handle the unexpected. 
  • Give example – when changes happen in your project, everyone will turn their eye to you. Control your behavior.
  • Always remind them the final target– when you show them the final target, you raise their head above the day-to-day work and give them the strengths to keep the hard work.

These are just few points you could follow in order to increase you staff ability to work in changing environment. I will be happy to get other feedbacks on that issue.


Good luck!



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  1. […] result I can emphasize from that article is being ready for the change (Project’s unexpected: change as a way of life for today PM). I got several comments in a LinkedIn discussion about this post arguing that proper risk […]

  2. גילעד-יישר כח.מאד נהנייתי להיווכח שאנו חולקים תפיסת עולם דומה בהקשר עם ניהול פרוייקטים בסביבה דינאמית.
    דרך אגב זה גם נושא עבודת הדוקטורט שלי בטכניון-תוכל לאתר אותה באינטרנט ואשמח להעביר אליך לינק שלה
    צביקה ציקליק

    • Thanks.

      I will be happy to get the link.


  3. […] projects from one project to another and also during the same project period. We must accept it (Project’s unexpected : change as a way of life for today PM). We must always challenge the status quo and try to find the best way to achieve the project […]

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