Friday, October 26, 2012

What is Progressive Elaboration?

Progressive Elaboration

At the beginning stages of any project, you have very little information and detail to work with. It is the characteristic of any project and the project management team has to live with it. But, how we can proceed? What is the approach to planning? This is where the concept of Progressive Elaboration comes in handy.

Progressive elaboration allows a project management team to manage the project to a greater level of detail as it evolves. It involves continuously improving and detailing a plan as more detailed and specific information and more accurate estimates become available. It helps in achieving more accurate and complete plans that result from successive iterations of the planning process.


  1. I will add an analogy here. When we are travelling, say for example from Salem to chennai, the headlights of our car illuminate only the next 200 ft, but we can travel 350 kms with that. The road reveals itself as we go. I think this fits with the image you have posted!

    1. Yes Deepak, perfect analogy. While we know the destination (for example, Chennai in your analogy), we may not know much finer details to plan effectively. As you drive along, you may come across a detour, a broken bridge, a fallen tree and so on. As more details are available, we progressively elaborate our planning. Thanks for your comment!

  2. What would be the progressive elaboration for constructing a motorway .?

    1. Progressive elaboration for specific projects depends on your domain knowledge. For example, in constructing a motorway, you have an initial plan. This may change as more information comes in; for example, your traffic survey results, geotechnical investigations and so on.