What If?

One of my readers who is not a card-carrying member of the church of project management challenged me this year to blog about the foundational building blocks of PM. Leaving the methodologies of waterfall or agile or hybrid aside, what are the core elements of project management that every PM needs to know?

I've been pondering that question for a few weeks now. After finishing up The Accidental Creative (which, in my opinion, should be mandatory reading for every project manager), building block #1 came to me. And that is the simple question: "what if?" That question should guide everything that project managers do.

This week, I had a situation arise on one of my projects that threatened our ability to complete delivery successfully. Luckily, I had had the foresight a few weeks ago to ask the question "what if?" about this potential scenario--that then wound up materializing. The scenario was so unlikely to occur that it was almost uncanny when it did. Yet, because I had asked the question "what if?", the team was quickly able to execute a solution to course correct. Actively managing risk--otherwise known as asking "what if?"--should be the practice of every PM worth their salt.

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