Finding Your Luck In Project Management

March 12, 2020 by Rose Cook

I recently came across an article Lynn wrote around St. Patrick’s Day five years ago and thought it was appropriate once again. It was titled, “Is it Luck or Just Good Risk Management?” and it discussed how, in project management, you can’t expect things to always go smoothly. None of us get that lucky, not even on St. Patrick’s Day!

While re-reading that newsletter, I realized my thoughts back then still hold true today.

As project managers, one of our most important responsibilities is managing risk on our projects. Risk assessment must be built in, right from the beginning of the project, so that if things go wrong the main objectives and goals are still achieved – on time and on budget. As much as we’d like to, we can’t expect things to go always go as planned. It’s important to be realistic and to proactively build in a contingency in case the project goes off course. Assessing the risks that are most likely to occur, the severity, and the probability that they will occur is a critical component to any project plan. Being proactive regarding managing project risk and communicating it across the team is essential to any project’s success. Being reactive in this regard is a recipe for disaster.

The moral of that story: Be prepared. So, does luck play any part in project risk management? I think it does! 

We can all relate to the fact that things will still go wrong, regardless of how prepared we are. However, even under the worst circumstances, sometimes things go right too! So often on any given project, I’ve thought to myself, “Well, that was lucky.”

Sometimes it’s little things, like being late for an important meeting and hitting all green lights on the way there, or the client canceling a status call that you weren’t quite prepared for yet. There have been occasions when we’re in the thick of things that I’ve sat back and looked at my team thinking how lucky I am to have them. I’m so proud of their knowledge, their dedication, and their willingness to go the extra mile to accomplish our project goals. I built this wonderful team of people who I was lucky enough to find at just the right time. And, of course, I’ll take a little of the credit for having the good sense to hire them!

A project manager friend was just telling me how he lost a member of his team suddenly to a family emergency. While looking for a replacement, he ran into a former colleague. The former colleague happened to have recently been laid off due to a company merger, and through this lucky encounter, everything fell into place for both of them. It’s a perfect example of being in the right place at the right time.

By definition, luck is, “advantage or success, considered as the result of chance.” In project management, regardless of your project plan, your preparation, your attention to every detail and your best efforts, sometimes serious issues occur. I firmly believe that by keeping focused, having a positive attitude, and communicating with my team – with a little luck sprinkled in – things will fall into place. 

My success isn’t just the result of chance. It’s the result of hard work and dedication. Sure, I’m lucky. I’m lucky to love what I do and I’m lucky that with the many directions my career has taken, I’ve found my passion. I’m lucky Lynn and I knew just the right time to take our knowledge and skills and turn them into the success that is FlexPro. Oh, and keeping a lucky rabbit’s foot close by didn’t hurt either!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Here’s hoping a little “luck of the Irish” comes your way too!

Looking for project management expertise to tackle your project plans? The FlexPro Group is a project management consulting firm, specializing in the Life Sciences industry since 2008. FlexPro combines industry-certified experts with proven project management processes and subject matter expertise to deliver results on-time and on-budget. Our focus areas include Product Development & Commercialization, Supply Chain Optimization, Integration Management, and Early-Stage Acceleration. Contact FlexPro today to learn more.

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