Project based on clarity regarding goals and methods.

It can be challenging to determine the appropriate level of ambition when establishing a concept. This might be due to the project aiming to create something very unique, hence the final result must gradually take shape. This is typical for some research and innovation projects. Sometimes, it can be difficult to define the final characteristics of the deliverable at the project’s start, as there are many parties involved who will contribute to shaping it.

Understanding how to advance to produce the deliverable can also pose a challenge since the method remains uncertain.

The following framework can be used to clarify how a project idea should be progressed.

Closed Project – “Following a Recipe”:
Projects of this type are marked by their clear objectives and predefined methods – the deliverables and the means of achieving them are known. As a result, internal uncertainty is considerably minimized. Given their predictability, these projects can be carefully detailed and planned, and quite often, they can be broken down and distributed to various contributors depending on their skills. The project manager is the one who manages the work and brings the parts together. House construction is an example of such a project.

Semi-open project – “Film Production”:
These projects are characterized by a predefined approach. It is clear that we are going to film, cut, edit, add music and so on, and we have a lot of knowledge about how to perform these tasks. However, we have limited information about the final product, meaning the goal related to the quality of delivery. The feeling the film evokes. For instance, in system development projects, the methods are often clearly defined, while the quality of the outcome must gradually be revealed and grounded among the project team, the client, and other stakeholders.

Semi-closed project – “Conquest”:
The defining feature of these types of projects is knowing the desired outcome, but not necessarily the path to achieving it. This situation can be compared to Little Red Riding Hood, who knew her final destination (her grandmother’s house), but was uncertain of the adventures and challenges she’d encounter along the way. Given this method-related uncertainty, it becomes essential to have a proficient team with a strong culture of problem-solving and learning through a process of trial and error. Although these projects may not be suited for detailed activity planning, milestone planning should still be implemented.

Open Project – “Venturing into the Fog”:
Such projects are characterized by the uncertainty of both objectives and methods – the project team can only perceive what’s as far as an arm’s length in this metaphorical fog. During these projects, it’s crucial to capitalize on the competencies of all team members, and to align work with broader visions and goals that provide a sense of direction. Team members must be able to handle high levels of uncertainty throughout a significant portion of the process. It’s vital to foster strong relationships within the project team – so as to optimally utilize everyone’s expertise. It’s also important to engage the project with other actors to continuously identify and interpret uncertainties – and to make necessary decisions. Traditionally, it has been advised to follow through with “Following a Recipe“-projects due to their predictability. However, the demands for exploration and innovation necessitate the pursuit of certain projects falling into one of the other three categories. While “Venturing into the Fog“-projects might appear to be the least feasible, numerous successful innovations have emerged from such a way.

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