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#428: Make Sure You Don't Boil the Ocean in Your Projects

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, November 3, 2010
I've heard the phrase, "Don't boil the ocean!" from time to time, but I am not clear on its meaning.

The phrase "boil the ocean" refers to the act of "over-scoping" a project, trying to solve too large a problem, or too many problems at once), thereby making your success at effectively solving it unlikely. It can describe an attempt at achieving something that is too large in scale or way too ambitious. Finally, it often means making an effort that, even if successful, would have marginal value to a client. Attempting to "boil" the ocean is not a practical task to take on due to its sheer magnitude (and, given the Earth's oceans contain about 1.4 billion cubic kilometers, that's a lot to boil!)

Tip: Consultants can run the risk of attempting to "boil the ocean" when scoping their projects and must work with their clients to set realistic expectations and successful and timely delivery of results.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  consulting terminology  engagement management  project management 

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