When you are running a project things can go wrong. And we try to avoid these mistakes, by applying beforehand some process of risk management and learning and registering lessons learned afterward. We work hard to avoid repetition. We pro actively search for threats, multiply chance with impact, in order to manage those threats and risks by mitigating.
One can be very occupied by this focus on all the things that could go wrong. And this approach has a pittfall. When you want to manage risks, the risks tend to manage.
Now, do NOT think of a yellow towel. And… having any success? This is the (unaware) outcome of avoiding as a process.
So, maybe it is time to add a process ‘surprise management’. In this process we look for things that could go the way we want, and maybe even surprise us by going even better as expected. What to do when someone has completed a task before a deadline… Calculating chance and impact of those surprises. Taking measures to increase chance and extend impact. I mean, laying our focus on making sure our targets are met with ease in stead of trying to avoid the things to go wrong. And, very important, be sure to collect the surprises, make use of the extra time, the extra money and extra quality you can achieve this way.
If you like this idea, I truly recommend you to read the books of Eliyahu Goldratt. First his book on process management “The goal”, in which he explains his Theory of Constraints (TOC), and in addition his book “Critical chain” in which he shows how the TOC can be applied to project management. In this second book he shows e.g. how our current ways of project planning put in effect a self-fulfilling prophesy to rarely meet deadlines; how we are only able to extend projects and why we are incapable of collecting the profits when tasks exceed expectations.
STOP preventing things from going wrong, and START making sure things exceed expectations.