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  • Writer's pictureBrian Davidson, PMP, CSM

Scaling up the Navigation Plan: From Individual Activities to the Overall Project

In our previous article, we explored the Navigation Plan at a micro level—applying it to individual activities or deliverables within a project. We highlighted how this approach can significantly enhance task ownership, risk management, team communication, and continuous learning. Just as an individual team member can apply the Navigation Plan tool to an individual activity or deliverable, the project team can use this same concept to assess risk for the overall project. Now, let's scale up this approach and consider how to leverage the Navigation Plan for the macro level of overall project management.

The Macro-Level Application of the Navigation Plan

Just as individual project tasks can be based on assumptions, so too is the overarching project. These could be assumptions about the project's scope, budget, timeline, or stakeholder expectations. Incorrect assumptions at this level can create obstacles that put the entire project at risk. To prevent this, project teams can use the Navigation Plan.

The overall project Navigation Plan follows the same three-column format as the individual Navigation Plan:

  • The first column lists the assumptions made by the project team. These are the beliefs or expectations about the project that the team takes as given.

  • The second column identifies the potential obstacle that could arise if the assumption turns out to be untrue. This involves analyzing the overall project and considering what could go wrong.

  • The third column outlines a clear action that the project team can take to mitigate the likelihood of that obstacle occurring. This requires strategic planning and problem-solving skills, taking into account the entire project and all its elements.

This proactive and strategic approach offers several benefits:

  • Reduced Project Risk: By identifying potential obstacles early on, the project team can mitigate them before they become major issues that jeopardize the project's success.

  • Better Resource Allocation: Project resources can be allocated more effectively when obstacles are identified in advance. This allows teams to focus their efforts on high-risk areas, preventing the spread of resources too thin.

  • Improved Decision Making: Proactively identifying potential obstacles equips the project team with valuable information needed for making informed decisions, thus reducing the chances of project failure.

  • Increased Project Efficiency: By anticipating and addressing obstacles early on, project teams can reduce delays, thereby increasing overall project efficiency.

Empowering the Project Team

Aside from proactively identifying potential obstacles, it's essential to empower the project team to overcome these obstacles. This involves promoting a culture of ownership, collaboration, continuous learning, and supportive leadership.

Just as individual team members take ownership of their tasks when they develop their Navigation Plans, the entire project team should feel a sense of ownership over the overall project. This feeling of ownership can significantly increase the team's motivation and commitment to the project's success.

Furthermore, promoting open communication and collaboration can lead to a more comprehensive understanding of potential obstacles and foster innovative solutions. Encouraging a culture of learning can help the team navigate obstacles more effectively and improve their problem-solving skills. Finally, leaders play a critical role in empowering the team by fostering an environment of trust and respect, providing the necessary resources and support, and inspiring the team to reach their full potential.


While individual Navigation Plans are invaluable for managing risks at a task level, scaling this tool to the project level offers greater strategic oversight and a more robust approach to managing potential obstacles. By identifying assumptions, anticipating obstacles, and empowering the project team to devise and implement actionable solutions, the Navigation Plan can transform these obstacles from project derailers into opportunities for learning and growth.

Every successful project is a result of successful activities, all of which can be guided by the principles of the Navigation Plan. With this powerful tool, project teams can navigate any obstacle, no matter how large or small, and steer their project towards success. Remember,

it's not the absence of obstacles that defines a successful project, but the ability to anticipate, navigate, and overcome them. As you set sail on your next project, don't just plan your journey; plan your Navigation. Equip your team with the tools to navigate the sea of project tasks and the waves of potential obstacles. This way, even in the stormiest project seas, you'll have the compass to guide you and the map to show the way. Let the Navigation Plan be your guide. Happy Navigating!


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