Every complex project is unique
If it’s not unique, it’s just complicated. The trick is understanding what’s unique and factoring greater resilience into these project elements.
For example, if you take on a well-understood, technically complicated project in a harsh new environment, you’re introducing novelty, which adds complexity and increases your risk. You can try to stamp out uniqueness, then seek, through standardized processes, to prevent it creeping back in.
This may work if you have a large portfolio of repeatable projects, such as an offshore windfarm that ‘clones’ the structures and turbines. Varying sea conditions may cause issues. But as one platform follows another, the project’s complexity is minimal.
Technology moves on, though. Turbines become bigger, regulations get tighter and designs evolve to cope with more power. Over time, the picture may change without the organization realizing.
Treat major projects with a cookie-cutter approach and the unique parts may derail you. But overdo your efforts at increasing resilience and you erode your profit margins.
Understanding what’s different, and by how much, is the skill to cultivate.
Understanding what’s different, and by how much, is the skill to cultivate. This reduces your exposure to nasty surprises and enhances your project team’s chances of success.