Evolution And Project Management

Dec 10, 2008   //   by Hackadelic   //   Blog  //  No Comments
This entry is part of a series, Project Management Thoughts»

356/365: An Evolution of Rivalry

In “The Costs Of Not Doing Something Else“, I made the aside conclusion that John’s trek only needed to meet some minimum criteria in order to be considered a success. That is an inherent property of what can be called an uncompetitive system.1

Coming back from treks to projects, I state:

The way they are performed, projects are uncompetitive systems.

A project that had led its attendants through a valley of blood, sweat and tears, but has eventually come to completion and produced an invoice-worthy outcome, and has been largely within budget, is a “successful” project.2

No projects is done twice, in sequence or in parallel, trying and comparing different methods and techniques. Hence, a project does not usually compete with other projects.

Not surprisingly, the appointed reason #1 for this is cost.34 In fact, cost seems such an obvious reason that it is rarely questioned whether there are hidden, subtle costs of not doing it.

From what I know, competition is a driving force behind evolution. As such, the lack of competition is likely to hinder, or at least significantly slow down evolution.

But we don’t have to be as far-reaching as to evolution. Feedback is essential to learning, and having something to compare with is a great source of feedback.5

So, to conclude:

The hidden cost of not comparing projects may very well be the failure to live up to full project management and execution potential.

I’m curious what project (and other) managers think about this!

  1. An uncompetitive system is a system lacking comparison to other systems of a kind. []
  2. Sometimes, if a project is not withing budget, but is attributed “strategic”, the mere fact of not being aborted is considered a success. Herein, the actual degree of strategic value may be practically irrelevant. Some organizations are pickier then others in this respect. What always matters is that the project has the “strategic” label attached, and that no one questions that loudly. []
  3. I suspect though, the comfort of not being in competition may play a, perhaps subconscious, role. []
  4. Since a project is unique by definition (wikipedia: In project management a project consists of a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.), no two projects can be accurately compared. This effectively eliminates other projects as a point of reference. []
  5. In this respect, competition provides for relative comparison rather then an absolute reference. []

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