For any project, especially critical projects (i.e. projects that have a significant impact on your strategy), your project leader must be aware of how your philosophy aligns with your methodology. Furthermore, your program leader must ensure that the philosophy on each project is proactive, intentional, declared, and fits within the overall fabric of the program. The great philosophers of ancient Greece like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle would critically examine all elements of human nature to understand how we judge, evaluate, and ultimately take action. You must critically examine the basic elements or metaphysics of each critical project, and ensure you’ve installed the correct philosophy, or the actions taken on your project will conflict with the methodology that facilitates its success.
What classic project management scholars would have you believe is that scope, time, and cost are the basic elements of any project. That’s almost correct—I agree with scope and time, but cost is an indirect, fungible variable in most large organizations so in most cases, it’s not appropriate as a basic element. The more direct variable is people (i.e. how many people, what percentage of their time, etc.).
You need to make some basic decisions on how [scope, time, and people] work together on any program or critical project—this will form your philosophy.
You need to make some basic decisions on how these variables work together on any program or critical project—this will form your philosophy. In any three-dimensional system like this, one dimension must be locked, one dimension must be intentionally adjusted, and the final dimension must be allowed to adjust. These are what I call the post, lever, and balance respectively, and collectively project metaphysics. For instance, if I’m a Black Belt on a traditional Six Sigma or waterfall project, I might post scope, use people as a lever, and balance to time. If however, I’m a ScrumMaster on an agile Scrum project, I will certainly (by directive methodology) use people as a lever again; but this time, post time and balance to scope. These are two fundamentally different philosophies.
A common problem I see when I step into any program or critical project, is a disconnect between the (usually unstated) philosophy, and the chosen methodology, even if it’s custom-built! Especially with the rise in popularity of agile project management like Scrum, I see organizations attaching to the techniques without fully understanding the culture that makes it work. Disaster is eminent; it’s just a matter of how long the organization in this case struggles before the project finally fails.
Sometimes, getting results is a matter of fundamentals, but sometimes it’s under the surface like a misaligned philosophy. For smaller, low-profile projects you may be able to sustain the impact of a failed project, but for critical, strategic projects this can crush your vision. Contact us today if you’d like to chat more about your organization’s programs or critical projects.