Five Project Action Principles

I believe that we need a set of higher-order principles that stand outside the day-to-day processes we may use, and which guide people to align productively around a clear end-goal and determine a delivery approach. These principles need to be more than generic imperatives (e.g. “communicate better” or “be a self-governing team”) but must be purpose-designed for project delivery. They must be able to directly enable project actions and outcomes.

Five Project Action Principles

Five Project Action Principles

I have defined five “Project Action Principles” to this end. More details are available by following the headline link, or “How to Use the 5 Principles”.

1. Achieve Outcomes, Rapidly

Consciously and deliberately focus on the achievement of outcomes over the execution of tasks and activities. Outcomes deliver projects, but not all tasks result in outcomes. And move as quickly as the situation allows. Everything else flows from this principle

2. Fulfill Customer Value, Interactively

Any activity, resource investment, or outcome that does not service a customer value proposition is waste and probably avoidable. The definition of value must be obtained directly from the customer, not an intermediary. Project deliverables must be validated with customers repeatedly and directly.

3. Build Shared Models, Verifiably

Use vivid and graphic models for all project concepts, and constantly validate and update those models. Invest time to share and align these models with project participants. Constantly refer to the models to embed them into everyone’s planning and thinking, forming a resilient master-plan for project outcomes. 

4. Eliminate Teaming Threats, Ruthlessly

Trust and allow the first three principles to provide the environment for self-teaming and collaboration to naturally occur, instead of forcing popularised team-building processes. Invest your time to identify and eliminate teaming threats that would negatively impact the self-creation of the team. 

5. Suppress Project Entropy, Selectively

Trust the implementation and guidance of the first 4 project action principles to significantly reduce the entropy in your project. For the remaining entropic events, selectively invest time only where the result will materially improve the achievement of project outcomes. Do not attempt to implement comprehensive entropy control processes. 

Each of the above principles is expanded in a dedicated article. See “Additional Resources” at the end of this article.


As you begin to use these 5 Project Action Principles to guide your project management practice, you will spend less time on negative, entropy-focused processes, and more on positive, value-creating tasks.

You don’t need to abandon your current project management knowledge base to use these principles if you are skilled or feel comfortable in their use. Understanding and using the Project Action Principles will guide you to better and more efficiently use those tools; plus, it will provide you opportunities to identify and use new or different tools.

Check out the details of these Project Action Principles in the individual overview articles, and other resources on this site.

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