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From the author of Extreme (xPM) and Emertxe (MPx) Quadrants

Extreme (xPM) and Emertxe (MPx) Quadrants

Projects in the Extreme Project Management (xPM) quadrant don't have a clear goal or solution. The only projects that occupy this part of the project landscape are research and development projects. The goal is often not much more than a guess at a desired end state, with the hope that a solution to achieve it can be found. In most cases, some modified version of the goal statement is achieved. In other words, the goal and the solution converge on something that you hope has business value. APF has been adapted and used successfully for xPM projects.

Projects in the MPx quadrant have a clear solution, but the goal is unclear. This sounds like a solution out looking for a problem, and may seem like nonsense at first, but that's not the case. Like xPM projects, these are also research and development projects[md]but with a twist. I call these projects emertxe projects, and they use an approach that I call Emertxe Project Management (MPx). In case you haven't already guessed, emertxe is extreme spelled backwards. I chose that name because MPx projects will use the same management approach as xPM projects, except that the time scale is reversed. Let me explain. In an xPM project, a fuzzy goal will only be clarified when a best-fit solution is found. That best-fit solution will meet some goal that is a special case[md]and probably a more limited version[md]of the original goal. In an MPx project, you have a solution and are asked to define the goal that it meets. So there was no goal statement at the outset, but the solution will define the goal. Just as in an xPM project, the question now becomes whether the goal and solution deliver acceptable business value. If yes, you've succeeded.

So the major difference between an xPM project and an MPx project is that in an xPM project both the goal and the solution converge on a goal and the solution that supports it. In an MPx project, the solution is fixed and you have to find the goal that it supports. In both xPM and MPx projects, the resulting goal and its solution must pass the test of being acceptable from a business value standpoint.

Table 1 shows the top 10 reasons listed by the Standish Group 2010 CHAOS Report for why projects become challenged and will obviously fail unless a mitigation strategy is put in place. APF is that strategy.

Table 1: Standish Group 2010 CHAOS Report: Top 10 Reasons Projects Become Challenged


APF Can Mitigate

Lack of user input


Incomplete requirements and specifications


Changing requirements and specifications


Lack of executive support


Technology incompetence

Lack of resources

Unrealistic expectations


Unclear objectives


Unrealistic timeframes


New technology

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