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Strategy vs. Luck: Managing Projects in the Face of Uncertainty

A crucial element of luck underscores many of even the most carefully conceived plans, especially in project management. Where do strategy and luck intersect? Kenneth Darter writes for Project Smart about when the dice get rolled and how to react to the results.

Life Is Like a Game of Chance

In project management, the element of chance rests solely with people. For instance, a major stakeholder might suddenly leave the company, leaving a void that needs to be filled. Project managers need to have enough contingency scenarios stored up in their heads to account for these situations. Darter says it is like rolling dice. You may not know how the numbers will turn out, but you do know there are only a finite number of ways they can go, which helps you strategize. The example given of how this applies to project management is that, if you include budgeting for risk in the project, then you will know in advance the upper limit of how much risk the project can absorb.

Projects can be compared to a deck of cards too. You have no control over the order of the cards, but you can work with the cards you are given to build the best hand possible:

In project management, you also need to learn to stack the deck. Perhaps you can seek out a stakeholder who has ideas and a viewpoint that will be favourable towards the project. Perhaps you can load up your project team with the best performers. Whatever it is, you should do whatever you can to stack the deck in your favour.

Projects will never be as reliable as chess, where every piece can only behave in specified ways, but you should always be thinking ahead to your next move nonetheless. For more gambling talk, you can read the original article here:

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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