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Project Management
and the Mirror Universe


Elise Brownell, PhD_400x400

Elise Brownell, PhD

Executive Vice President of Operations and Project Management

Amarantus BioScience, United States

I’ll admit it: I am completely absorbed by the notion of a Mirror Universe and have been following the recent articles on the topic

It occurs to me that part of my fascination comes from experience in project management where a great deal of my time is spent spotting discrepancies, digging into unanticipated results, managing expectations, and holding protected space for cognitive dissonance. One area in which all of these dynamics intersect is in the subject of due diligence…a topic that will be examined at the upcoming Fleming conference on Project and Portfolio Management (San Francisco, CA, 24-25 July 2019). It is in this arena that high-performance project/portfolio management comes to the forefront by reconciling a company’s vision with the reality of its history in a way that is coherent, accessible, inspiring, and accommodating enough for alternative interpretations.

Examples of how these factors often play out in due diligence exercises include:

  • The Disappearing Act: Ever place a document in your virtual diligence room only to see it vanish without a trace? Kind of like those vanishing neutrons that skitter into the mirror world while researchers were actually studying them.
  • The Breadcrumb Challenge: For highly innovative drugs, the development roadmap can be littered with detours and potholes that need to be integrated into an understandable (but grounded) story for investors and/or potential partners. Laying out the breadcrumbs in a thoughtful way is an essential skill set for Project Management in this regard because the PM has a bird’s eye view of the entire program.
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: Much like the Mirror Universe researchers, we often need to make it comfortable for others to see things differently and encourage them to invest in the risks of unconventional wisdom. Likewise, this is certainly the bailiwick of Project Management, and our ability to provide both risk reduction strategies and the inspiration to fuel the effort.

For Due Diligence, then, perhaps it is most important to accompany others through the Portal into the Mirror World…and lead them back out again in a way that they seek more.