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  • Writer's pictureEva Jenisch

Should you improvise on projects?

Really? I don't need to improvise; my project is well planned. Or maybe I do have to do that ...? But how to do it?

When people talk about project management, it often comes down to planning. The tenor is, if you plan well and then execute, you will achieve your project goals. But what do you actually do when things don't go as expected? Improvising just sounds so unprofessional somehow.

It's really like a good chef: only someone who has a good knowledge of the ingredients and how to prepare them, on the one hand, and understands how they react with each other and at different temperatures, on the other hand, can improvise well with new dishes and changing ingredients. This requires that the chef has gained experience in a wide variety of situations and has learned how to handle different ingredients and materials under different circumstances. This doesn't just happen on the fly.

The same applies to a project manager. No matter how well the project is planned, something will come up, circumstances might change, or an associate drops out. However, this does not have to impact the project negatively if ...

🪂 Together, the project manager and the project team have a treasure trove of diverse experience on which to build.

🪂 An experienced project manager has, of course, also carried out a risk analysis for the project and considered in advance which problems may occur and how to mitigate. This saves valuable time when facing a problem.

🪂 And ideally, a good project team works hand in hand and stays motivated despite or because of all the challenges.

When things don't go as planned, you need to be flexible and adapt your approach. What helps is experience, good preparation, a good team and a good balance between consistency and flexibility.

So clearly, you can't plan or foresee everything in advance. There are instances when decisions have to be taken without having complete information. Therefore, it is essential to establish the prerequisites ahead of time to be able to improvise smartly in difficult situations.

… in the words of Shahenshah Hafeez Khan: « Just because we have nowhere to run, it isn't a dead end. Every dead situation requires us to improvise & improve, remember we learn to climb the wall only when left with no place to run. »

Hence, for a successful project, be prepared to improvise 😉

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