Humans love to give advice - stating what should be done.

In early stages of a project, a strong PM & Sponsor are leaders - they are steering the ship because they are the most informed people of the project.

They need to be very open to asking for opinions, but be careful when they ask for advice. This type of approach can also be leveraged for any type of business.

Often Advisory boards are set up early in the project and the people give strong advice as what should be done.  People love to jump into the "How we should get it done".

We forget to still ask the Why, and focus then on the Who leads, and then clarify the What at high level.  Then break off into smaller groups to figure out the What in more detail. Then we can start to figure out the how (based on the items above and based on the type of resources and priorities set).

Asking people for "Opinions" vs "Advice" is a a key skill of a PM.  Then take the opinions under consideration to achieve the best decisions.  Great PMs have a high number of advisors that they can go to and thus get multiple "opinions" based on multiple perspectives.  A project at it's early stages has tremendous complexity, uncertainty and interfaces.  Thus for people to give advice (telling what to do) they are only basing it on the limited amount of information that they know (and often they will assume that they know more about the project then there is). So  be careful with that.

Tip is to ensure you have strong governance as to who you go to for advice and opinions. If you can, have it documented in a Org chart that has lines of communication and why the lines exist. Often in a project advice/opinions come from multiple types of committees, but a good PM should also try to include individuals from specialized areas. Ensure there is a process to leverage peoples formal and informal opinions and get them documented and communicated.

Reminder, try to also ensure they understand that there is a lot they do not know about the project so if they get frustrated that their advice was not followed, is often due to other things that they were not aware of.

Early on in the project, remember to focus on aspects such as:
- project strategy and justification (value)
- alignment with the business
- organizational complexity and maturity
- project complexity
- org design
- complexity of the roles and responsibility
- project methodology to be followed
- expectations of stakeholders
- stage of the project that you are in
- etc.

As you can imagine, the aspects above can greatly influence a persons advice, so help all your advisors understand this and keep this in mind for you (the PM) and the Sponsor as you incorporate peoples advice and opinions into your plan (vs jumping to follow their advice).

Focus on governance which will help to establish, who you go to for what, and ensure that those people you go to for advice/opinions have enough background on the project.

Listed below is a good link that talks more about governance and some common pitfalls that can occur: