My fiction-writing has had a side effect: I found ways of enhancing project management to cope with “impossible” situations. I use them at work.

Managing unknowns

The technique of “risk management” in projects describes risk in terms of potential problems – problems that could be recognised if they occurred. But many risks don’t appear in the way that’s expected, and there are surprises that nobody considered.

Managing unknowns is about handling the unknown with professional efficiency. And understanding the limits of existing methods of managing project risk.

Intelligence-led project management

Sometimes we have to take projects that are absurdly ambitious. The conventional tactics are to stop the project as quickly as possible, or get the senior stakeholder to underwrite whatever goes wrong. That could include costs, delays and reduced ambition. The incorrect tactic is to pretend it’s under control, then run away when things get bad. That leaves the pain for other people.

There’s now an alternative, that works in some situations: use intelligence-led project management. It uses well proven techniques from the intelligence profession, and adapts them to industry.