Managing Programs in Ambiguous Environments



By Vatsal Mehta

Bothell, Washington



The purpose of this article is to discuss the challenges of managing a project in a research organization, with a focus on the role of the Technical Program Manager (TPM) in navigating ambiguity. The article outlines the key challenges of dealing with uncertainty and ambiguity in research work and explains how a skilled TPM can provide direction and guidance to the team, stay adaptable and flexible, and act as a liaison between the research team and other stakeholders.

Keywords: Research Program Management, Ambiguous Environment, Effective TPM, Product Development

Challenges in Research Organizations

Research organizations are complex and dynamic entities that often operate in a state of ambiguity. This ambiguity can stem from a variety of sources, such as unclear goals or objectives, a lack of funding or resources, or a lack of consensus among members of the organization. This ambiguity can make it difficult for research organizations to effectively carry out their work and can lead to inefficiency and confusion. Additionally, it can also create challenges for researchers within the organization, who may struggle to navigate the uncertain landscape and make decisions about their work. Despite these challenges, many research organizations are able to thrive and produce valuable contributions to their fields by embracing ambiguity and using it as an opportunity for creativity and innovation.

Managing a project in a research organization can be a challenging task, particularly due to the inherent ambiguity that often comes with research and development work. In order to successfully navigate these challenges, it is important to have a skilled Technical Program Manager (TPM) at the helm. Having spent the last 5 years in R&D organizations of Amazon Robotics and Meta Reality labs I wanted to generalize and share my experiences to allow others to learn from my experiences.

One of the key challenges of managing a project in a research organization is dealing with the uncertainty and ambiguity that can arise during the research and development process. Research work is often exploratory in nature, and as such, it is not always clear what the best course of action should be. This can lead to delays and setbacks, which can ultimately impact the success of the project.


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How to cite this article: Mehta, V. (2023).  Managing Programs in Ambiguous Environments, PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue I, January.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/pmwj125-Jan2023-Mehta-managing-programs-in-ambiguous-environments.pdf

About the Author

 Vatsal Mehta

Bothell, Washington, USA


Vatsal Mehta is a seasoned Technical Program Management leader with a wealth of experience in demanding and high-visibility positions at tech giants like Amazon and Meta. He has a proven track record of success in leading the deployment of multiple global programs and bringing products from conception to market readiness on numerous occasions solidifying his reputation as a key leader in the industry. Vatsal is also responsible for rolling out the flagship Magic Leap 2 Early Access Program and is currently working on research initiatives for next generation hardware devices for the Metaverse at Meta Reality labs. He holds several patents for warehouse automation solutions with the publication of a research paper for haptics pending. He can be contacted at vatmehta@outlook.com



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