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The “Project Action Principles” (PAPs) most likely were triggered by the #noestimates dialog on Twitter a couple of years ago.  The proposition behind #noestimates was that in modern agile software development, estimates were not only not required, but were counter to the idea of agility.  I don’t necessarily agree 100% but I see the point behind the proposition.  It got me thinking to a project that I was running about a year earlier, in which I consciously decided that producing a project schedule was counter-productive.  I won’t go into details here but I felt that not only did I not need one, but that having one would have hurt more than it helped.  I have also written on the issues with how Risk Management is run in many projects and again, how this process is essentially a waste of time, in which case we’d be better off ignoring it.

So the question came to me a year or so ago: “what is the minimum framework we need to successfully run a project?”.  If estimates are not mandatory, and schedules are not mandatory and risk management is not mandatory, then what is mandatory?   what elements of project management are there that we cannot take away and still function? (always of course dependent on circumstances).

this seemed to me to be a task worthy of some brainpower, and so, after about 6-9 months, and much input from friends and colleagues, I came up with the 5 PAP’s.  These PAP’s are the distillation of my take on the simplest definition of what is needed to run a project in the most effective and efficient way. these will help me “do things right” in the project.   They get me out of the “paradigm trap” and employ the best practise as required for each project situation.

The beauty of the Principle approach is that I can use them just on their own, without any additional overhead.  Or I can use them in combination with existing methodological paradigms for project delivery, i.e. plan-based deterministic paradigms, e.g. those based on PMBOK.  I can use them with Prince2 and any agile approach.

That’s right, these  “Project Action Principles” don’t require me to give up everything I’ve learned regarding existing methodologies, or my own tools or “Micro-techniques” –

Project Action Principles are positioned to the succeed in the practise of Project Management as are Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits” positioned to success in general life.  They are high-order principles that leave you to define how you should implement them in the execution of each project, selecting . What these Project Action Principles will do is to only select the right tools for this particular project (so the “do things right” actually produces value).

Principles contrast with practices in that practices are for specific situations whereas principles have universal application

Tools without principles are not effective? But they will also help me ‘do the right thing’ at all levels of the project execution environment.

The Project Action Principles help me prioritise my time to the areas that add the most value, and to extend my vision of the project environment to other organisational areas and therefore bridge gaps between groups that have often been the cause of many problems in the past.

I don’t expect that everyone will be interested in adopting these exact Action Principles, but I hope that by articulating them in detail, that you and other project managers will understand their value, and be able to craft their own .