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Pushing project management to the extreme

Extreme project management - a person surfing down a mountain of papers

Written by Rhona Aylward

Rhona is Deputy Everything Officer at Psoda, where she does everything except code. After starting life as a microbiologist she moved into PMO leadership roles around the world before settling in New Zealand with her family.

Looking for something a bit different for this week’s blog post, I decided to search for the most extreme projects I could find.

I was expecting to come across things like bridges requiring foundations miles into bedrock. Houses that had been built on the side of a mountain with the only way to get the materials to them was by yak. Or some other extreme example, like a cloud PPM tool that has 650,000 lines of code written by one person – oh wait that’s Psoda!

Instead I discovered there’s a branch of project management called Extreme Project Management. I was so intrigued that I spent a day searching Google and reading about it.

Extreme project management is related to Extreme Programming. It’s used on projects where there is a high level of unpredictability. When there needs to be huge amounts of flexibility or when a lot of stakeholder engagement is required.

One of the main differences between this and other project management methodologies is that it demands huge commitment from the project sponsor. He or she needs to be actively involved at all steps of the project.

This methodology is even more slimmed down than Agile. Typical uses seem to be software (of course), R & D and, surprisingly, architecture.

There are five stages in the extreme methodology:

    • Planning
    • Scoping
    • Launching
    • Monitoring
    • Closing

Each stage is used to learn more about the goals of the project and how best to move towards the solution. With this methodology the project teams have very little guidance and everything is very fluid, with minimal documentation.

It sounds like a project manager’s idea of heaven! The only downside, and it’s a big one, is that projects using this methodology have a higher than average chance of failing.

Too bad you can’t have everything!

I’d love to hear what you think about extreme project management. Or if you have any extreme project management examples or stories to share.


  • February 11, 2014

    Hi Rhona,

    Why is it you think that extreme project management have a higher chance of failure than the “regular” PM.

    Also, can this type of PM be applied to projects that not that small?

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