Launching projects the German way and managing them the Italian way

A relatively new term in the professional vocabulary describes a new problem: governance. The exchanges on the subject identify the cause in the substantial modification of the competitive context.

The VUCA model – volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity – developed during the 90s by the American army summarises the new framework of strategic decision-making and its execution. It sets the context of the challenges to be taken up by the new practices.

The first point lies in a good preparation. Frequently handicapped by a lack of time and resources, the launching of projects is when major dead ends are reached, notably in adopting objectives.

A point of reference on the subject is without doubt the German practice. But the abuse of planning, the glaring predominance of precise objectives can harm the capacity to adapt.

The watchword is to provide direction. A project, besides its context, its conditions and its details, is a common story to be shared. At the beginning, and throughout a project, one must phrase and rephrase in order to share this story.

Some precursors innovate in this area: hand the role over to external moderators, factors of clear-sightedness, have people tell stories, at least once a year in long projects.

The second point lies in the capacity to quickly change course when the deal changes. Structured processes and long decision cycles transform projects into aircraft carriers.

Now is the time to develop the opportunism of an Italian racing driver. This does not mean improvising: the necessity is to increase the use of experimentation to substitute strategic planning, to take decisions based on tests and quick feedback from the field. This practice rests on a thorough execution.

Operating without a predefined target does not make you exempt from providing a direction: some resign to the quantified analytical plan, to the profile of a “management of conviction”, based on qualitative hypotheses, on which we agree indices that allow us to quickly decide to go ahead or, on the contrary, to change course as soon as possible, limiting the waste of resources.


C. Marco
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