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How to Manage Project Opportunity and Risk: Why uncertainty management can be a much better approach than risk management by Stephen Ward, Chris Chapman

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Chapter 5

Define the project

If you are sure you understand everything that is going on, you are hopelessly confused.

—Walter F. Mondale

This chapter explores what the define phase involves. The define phase is the first phase of all strategy shaping PUMPs. The define phase provides a basic foundation for the analysis that builds on it. If the define phase is seriously flawed, everything that follows will be flawed, like the proverbial house or castle built upon sand. However, bedrock foundations may be unnecessary – the key test is ‘are deliverables fit for purpose?’ This test needs a flexible interpretation based on the analysis to follow before the next updating of the current define phase deliverables, because the define phase is part of the iterative looping process. A strict ‘get it right first time’ approach is not clarity efficient.

The define phase should be used in the concept shaping stage for all projects, and in each subsequent strategy shaping lifecycle stage, building on earlier lifecycle stage deliverables as the project develops. However, like all chapters in Part II, this chapter’s focus is the last of the three nominal strategy shaping stages of the project lifecycle – the E&D shaping stage (execution and delivery strategy development stage) – assuming no earlier PUMP use. The rationale for this focus is threefold.

1. It is important to be able to cope with late initiation of a PUMP approach, because doing so is often essential, a late start in the E&D shaping ...

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