How to Improve Your Projects with 25 Simple Questions

As I wrote in a post a few years ago, project management is not for the faint of heart! Projects can be very complex and stressful.

Besides managing scope, schedule, and budget, project managers need to manage relationships with staff, customers, contractors, vendors, community leaders, and many others. Much of this project management is now done virtually as the project team, contractors and customers can be spread in multiple locations over multiple time zones, cultures and languages.

This is a daunting task!

Even more daunting is the task of a person responsible for the oversight of multiple projects. How can one person possibly stay on top of all the details from multiple large projects?

The answer is that they cannot and they should not even try!

So, what can a leader who is responsible for oversight of multiple large projects do to ensure the projects are on track and delivered successfully?

How Can We Make Projects Anti-Fragile?

Nassim Taleb has written a book entitled Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder  in which he basically defines fragile, robust and anti-fragile as;

  • Fragile – things that are harmed by volatility (e.g., glass bowl, economy, etc.)
  • Robust – things that are not harmed or helped by volatility (e.g., a rock)
  • Anti-fragile – things that thrive and improve with volatility (e.g., athletes with exercise gain strength and skill, entrepreneurs gain experience and resilience, etc.)

You can find a good summary of the concepts in his book in this video interview at .

According to Taleb, the more we interfere with systems to prop them up and eliminate unpredictability and try to smooth things out (i.e., take out the booms and busts of an economy) the more fragile and unstable that system gets. He uses the US economy extensively as an example and illustrates how bailing it out with programs like Quantitive Easing has really only made it that much more volatile and unstable. He states that “man-made complex systems tend to develop cascades and runaway chains of reactions that decrease, even eliminate, predictability and cause outsized events.” Essentially, as the systems that man creates grow larger, they become so complex we cannot control them. In fact, our attempts to control them only make them more volatile and likely to self destruct through a runaway chain of reactions.