AIM Archives - Tag: project review

Does your management understand the difference between risk and uncertainty?


You’ll have much better project reviews if they understand this difference. You can only assign a level of risk if you know the probability of an unfavorable event, e.g., 40% chance of a thunderstorm. It’s pointless—even misleading—to assign probabilities of success, net present values, and so forth in a project’s early phase. That comes later, after your team drives dozens of assumptions from uncertainty to certainty. The methodology for doing this isn’t difficult: Check out this 2-minute video at Why risk and uncertainty are different.

More in video, Project de-risking with Minesweeper® software

Let’s stop the shell games at project reviews.


My golden rule of investment is, “Make your decision when you’ve gathered the most facts and spent the least money.” If you do it right, this point in time is the gate just before the costly development stage. Most companies are far too casual here, letting each team build and present its own unique PowerPoint slides. Human nature says teams will use these slides to talk about their project’s strong points, avoiding weak areas.

So management tries to guess what’s missing: “What about the competition? Are there more technical risks? Is the problem this? Is it something else?” This shell game is waste of time, money and self-respect. Better to have a standard business case everyone works from. Here’s a sample of an abbreviated business case called a Market Case:

More in 2-minute video, Build a front-end business case

Does your R&D project look like a black box into which money is poured?


If your R&D looks like a black box to management, you’ve probably noticed that their patience can run out rather quickly. But when you de-risk projects transparently with management, they are much more tolerant of unavoidable delays and setbacks.

You do this in three steps: 1) Generate assumptions… possible landmines that could “blow up” your project. 2) Rate assumptions… for likely impact and certainty. 3) Investigate assumptions… especially high-impact, low-certainty assumptions. This 2-minute video explains the process: How to pursue transformational projects.

More in article, How to de-risk projects and overcome management doubt.

Great R&D project reviews share 4 qualities…


1) Everyone on the leadership team—HR, Finance, Legal—understands your project de-risking plan and progress. 2) Because you’ve explained potential landmines early, management is confident you aren’t “hiding something.” 3) Management sees you’re investigating critical assumptions fast and cheaply, so they don’t second-guess or micro-manage. 4) When it’s time for investment decisions, they are made quickly and wisely… because these leaders have been on the journey with you. (See 2-minute video, How to manage transformational projects.)

More in article, How to de-risk projects and overcome management doubt

Two completely different reasons for halting a new-product project.


Imagine two new-product project teams have gate reviews on the same day, and both projects are stopped. The first is stopped for the right reasons, e.g. smaller-than-expected market size or low customer interest… as evidenced by tiny Market Satisfaction Gaps. This is low Opportunity Quality. The second team is stopped due to sloppy work: skimpy customer interviews and much confirmation bias. This is low Execution Quality. Celebrate the first team. Train the second. For every project, make sure you know which is which.

More in article, 3 Problems with Innovation Metrics