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Keywords:

  • front end;
  • strategy;
  • complexity;
  • biases;
  • turbulence

Abstract

The importance of the front-end decision-making phase in projects is being increasingly recognized—the need to “do the right project” is on a par with “doing the project right.” This area is underrepresented in the literature, but there are a number of key themes that run throughout, identifying key issues or difficulties during this stage. This article looks at some of these themes and includes: the need for alignment between organizational strategy and the project concept; dealing with complexity, in particular the systemicity and interrelatedness within project decisions; consideration of the ambiguity implicit in all major projects; taking into account psychological and political biases within estimation of benefits and costs; consideration of the social geography and politics within decision-making groups; and preparation for the turbulence within the project environment, including the maintenance of strategic alignment.