I once almost lost what could’ve been a life changing sum of money and it’s all down to PRINCE2®.
As a project management framework, much of PRINCE2’s strength lies around a document called the PID. PID stands for Project Initiation Documentation and it’s the key reference used to define how the project is delivered. Its contents should include (amongst others):
The concept of an approach can be confusing because there is no one correct way to apply it. Instead, it should define a consistent attitude to those key areas which has been tailored to suit a specific project.
Back to me. The evening before the Champions League final of 2014, I had a dream that Real Madrid were going to beat Atletico Madrid 4-0. I had never before, or since, had a dream so vivid. I took this as a sign - the universe has chosen to bestow me with the gift of foresight! I had become a prophet! And what else would I do with such an ethereal acquisition? Why place a bet, of course! In checking the odds for a result of this magnitude, I learnt that one bookmaker was offering odds on a 4-0 win at 5000-1; for every pound I bet, they would return £5000. And so, my cognitive synapses fired into life; I was about to win big!
Within the PRINCE2 framework, risk is given heavy consideration. PRINCE2 defines risk as an uncertain event that can impact objectives and whilst it’s common for that to be interpreted negatively, there is also an acknowledgement that risk can also present opportunities - uncertainty with favourable outcomes. I could only see this as the opportunity of a lifetime. As well as several outstanding improvement projects that needed funding around the Nithsdale house, I was also in the process of becoming a father for the second time and this win was going to be the first stage of a project that would see me renovate a bedroom into a nursery, replace my car and maybe even book a luxury cruise around the Bahamas!
This leads us back to the PID and approaches. A risk management approach should clearly define a project’s risk appetite - the amount of risk we are willing to accept in receipt of a reward. My risk appetite was shaped by becoming a father (money was being spent on our imminent arrival and was generally tight) and by the fact that I’m a conservative gambler; the total amount I was willing to bet was £5 and I was going to win £25,000.
That’s not a typo. I was going to bet £5. I recently told this to a friend and once they stopped laughing, they questioned why I even bothered. You might even be thinking the same. The truth is that I could have bet more. When Saturday arrived and I set up a gambling account with an online betting company, it recognised I was a new customer. This triggered a promotion; if I made a £25 bet, the company would match this with a further £25. My £25,000 win would now become £250,000 and I can suddenly welcome baby Nithsdale like I’m Oprah Winfrey.
This is precisely why management approaches are so important. The extra £20 might not seem a lot to you but at that time, it meant a lot to me. A risk management approach should define a consistent attitude to risk which is tailored to an organisation’s personal circumstances. In this case, the organisation is my family and my attitude to risk is that I don’t work hard all week to just hand my cash over to William Hill. When you have a vision and decide to place a bet that will fund a renovation project in your house, you can define your organisation’s risk appetite. This is my project, the approach defines my rules and everyone working within the project needs to be on board, otherwise control is lost. PRINCE2 stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments, not PRojects IN Environments That Are kNee-jerK and Easily Swayed (PRINE TANKES?).
So, I placed a £5 bet for Real Madrid to beat Athletico Madrid 4-0. The odds were 5000-1 and I stood to win £25,000. To celebrate this momentous occasion, I bought a cheese crust, meat feast pizza and a four-pack of Corona beer, which felt vaguely Hispanic but is factually Mexican. I sat down on the sofa and turned on the TV just as the teams walked out to the Champions League theme in Lisbon’s Estàdio Da Luz. A shiver raced down my spine. The ref blew his whistle, and we were off. £25,000 here I come!
PRINCE2 uses a principle called ‘Continued Business Justification’. This principle states that if a project ceases to be viable, desirable, or achievable, then the project should be stopped. At the 36-minute mark, Diego Godìn scored for Athletico Madrid setting fire to my project’s viability and achievability. My desirability also dissipated, and I turned the TV off. The dream was over. The project was cancelled.
PRINCE2 also uses a principle called ‘Learn from Experience’. An autopsy of this project could provide the following nuggets of wisdom:
1) I am both tight and a terrible gambler.
2) Projects within the Nithsdale household should seek a more reliable funding mechanism.
3) PRINCE2’s management approaches are an effective way to apply control. If I hadn’t set clear limits, who knows how much money I could have lost.
I also missed a really entertaining game of football because Real equalised in the 87th minute and went on to win 4-1 in extra time. This regularly leaves me pondering a question I have never been able to answer: did I wake up too soon?
PRINCE2® is a trademark of Axelos and you can book a course using the link here.
PRINE TANKES is the intellectual property of Shane Nithsdale and has yet to be granted copyright status.