InTouch : Extreme Project Management

You’ve heard of extreme sports – now wrap your ears around extreme project management. That’s the focus of this year’s Project Management Institute of New Zealand’s conference which will be held in Auckland in early October.
Extreme project management (XPM) is the name given to method of managing very complex and very uncertain projects – differing from traditional project management in that it has an open, elastic and undeterministic approach. XPM’s main focus is on the human side of project management (managing stakeholders) rather than on intricate scheduling techniques and heavy formalism.
International guru on extreme project management Doug DeCarlo is the keynote speaker at the October 6-8 conference. His describes XPM as “high speed, high change, high unpredictability and high stress” and says there are many examples such as bringing out new product in half the time in order to beat competitor, putting in place new business process and supporting IT system that will eliminate jobs and take away decision-making authority from middle managers or responding to natural disaster, or business emergency.
DeCarlo says XPM and other forms of agile project management are rapidly replacing traditional project management (TPM) practices around the world because “unlike TPM, the agile project management mindset and associated practices [of XPM] allow the project team to rapidly adapt to changes in customer requirements, volatile market conditions and organisational politics”.
“Another reason XPM and other agile practices have taken hold (in addition to adaptability and greater control), is that they measure progress throughout the project in terms of how it is tracking in meeting the customer’s end-state, business value proposition,” says DeCarlo.
“TPM tends to be short sighted focusing on bringing in on time, budget and scope. These three criteria can be met, but the project could still fail to deliver the intended business payoff.”
He says the biggest challenges to managers involved with XPM projects are primarily people-oriented and include:
• Getting the right people on the team and maintaining their commitment given competing priorities.
• Managing the inherent conflict among stakeholders, those whose lives will change during and after the project.
“Being forced by the organisation to apply traditional project management practices in high-change environment is major challenge. The antidote for the project manager is courage. That is, the inner strength to say ‘no’ to inappropriate methodologies. In addition to this practice of intelligent disobedience, securing strong project sponsor – barrier buster – is essential.”

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