The Principled Manager: Adaptive

Projects and Programs in the development and humanitarian sectors

To complement the processes and tools provided within their pages, Project DPro and Program DPro include a set of five essential Principles for the management of projects and programs in development.

Here, we take a deeper look at the first of those Principles: Adaptive. To find out more, consult pages 179-183 of the Project DPro Guide and pages 156-167 of the Program DPro Guide.


While one of the main objectives of project management is to create and implement a plan, the ability to Adapt as the project progresses is a key principle of Project DPro. The Adaptive principle relates to Monitoring, Evaluation & Control, especially the control of changes made to the project plan.

Projects and Programs are living entities, and the DPro Manager must respond to changes and issues as they arise during their project or program. The Adaptive principle is applied during all the phases of Project and Program DPro.

Adaptive and Decision Gates

The points at which the DPro Manager can employ the Adaptive principle include Decision Gates, which are valuable opportunities to assess how the project or program has progressed. The Adaptive manager uses decision gates as opportunities to reassess and reanalyze the project information at their disposal

Adaptive and Covid-19

A very current and very real example of the need to be Adaptive is the Covid-19 crisis. The innumerable development projects and programs in operation when the crisis hit will have had to adapt to the restrictions and effects of Covid-19. Inability to do so will, in many cases, will have endangered the success of those projects and programs.  

Conclusion: Adaptability assumes increasing importance

The speed of technological change, and issues such as climate change, show that Covid-19 is not the only external factor requiring adaptability to changing circumstances. Perhaps more than any other Project and Program DPro principle, Adaptive will assume even more importance in the future.    

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