Believing in Lies
There are numerous ways to classify projects. The classification
I would like to consider has to do with repeated familiarity.
There are those projects which one repeatedly undertakes which
are relatively the same, and then there are those projects which
are unique one of a kind events. Unique in that the person or
group tasked with their accomplishment has never undertaken a
project of this nature in the past and is not likely to undertake
again in the future.
theWay of Systems
For those projects which one repeatedly undertakes a level of
expertise is developed and one gets better at planning and executing
these projects. As one's expertise develops it is expected that
the planning and execution of these repeated similar projects
become more and more accurate. Accurate in that the plan and actual
execution become more closely in agreement. Things should happen
pretty much as planned.
For those unique one of a kind projects there is little basis
for developing a realistic plan, even with the best of intent.
The project plan is at best an educated guess. An educated guess
that can be improved upon by capitalizing on the expertise of
others that have been previously involved in projects of this
nature. And yet there are many projects for which there are exists
no similar requisite expertise. As such, the project plan remains
very much simply ones conscientious best guess at what needs to
This type of project begins with everyone realizing that the project
plan is little more than an educated guess. And yet somewhere
along the way as the project gets underway people begin to lose
sight of the fact that the project plan was just and educated
guess. As the project progresses there remains less and less awareness
regarding the non-reality of the project plan. Individuals begin
to take the plan as gospel believing that it is an accurate projected
of what is going to happen.
As individual pursue implementation of the project they begin
to learn more and more about what they didn't know when they started
and they begin doing revisions to the project plan. Revisions
which seldom represent decreases in cost or time. When this happens
the individuals that lost sight of the fact that the plan was
little more than a guess consider that the project is lagging
behind schedule and experiencing cost overruns. So, of course
what is happening is considered to adversely reflect on the capabilities
of those responsible for the project implementation.
At this point even the individuals responsible for development
of the project plan and its implementation have lost sight of
the initial understanding that the project plan was little more
than an educated guess. The individuals involved begin to believe
management derision and perceive they are simply not able to implement
the plan. So they begin to cut corners attempting to drive the
implementation in accordance with the plan as written. And when
the project is coerced in this fashion the implemented result
seldom lives up to its expectations.
The final result is a completed project that seldom accomplishes
what was intended. The individuals involved in the project have
depressed impressions of their own capabilities. And management
probably has an unfavorable impression of the individuals responsible
for execution of a plan that resulted in a less than expected
result, in a time frame longer than predicted, and costing more
than projected. The system has discounted itself because of its
own ignorance and short term memory. This is the foundation of
a viscious cycle.
Copyright © 2004 Gene Bellinger