An important purpose of Project Management is simply to get something done. The more our project objective is different from what we have done before, the harder it is to plan every detail or estimate costs and schedules accurately. Even when the technical aspects of the project are unique, we can leverage from general project management methods.
One of these is “Alternatives Generation”.
What this means is making sure that for every project decision, there is a real choice, e.g.:
- a choice of implementation methods, possibly using different approaches or technical methods. The first one that comes to mind is not always the best one.
- a choice of who does what. The expert may be very good but not available when needed. It may be faster to use the expert as a coach, supporting a less experienced person for the implementation.
- a choice of location. Where the project team are affects communications, availability and many other factors.
- a choice of supplier. This is normal practice for procurement, where “alternatives generation” is built into the system.
- a choice of standards. Not all standards apply in all situations.
- and so on.
Generating Alternatives is simple and helped by observing some basic tips:
- Remember that “a choice of one alternative” is no choice at all. Be creative.
- Use Brainstorming, MindMaps and similar creative methods to generate alternatives.
- Ask everybody for options. A lot of ideas can be collected using Post-It notes, even from stakeholders and team members who tend to be silent.
- Use checklists.
- Ask the question “what other options can we think of?”, then wait in silence for suggestions. We are so used to fast interactions, that simply a few moments of reflection can be productive.
What are your favourite ways of generating alternatives?