Small Projects Mean Large Consulting Value
Friday, July 16, 2010
Contemporary project methods and approaches have a very high
with roughly two out of three projects failing or being "impaired”. How can this failure rate be explained?
One explanation is the demand for better outcomes cannot be
satisfied by doing more of the same.
Is it sensible to consider a fundamentally different
You’re welcome to apply aspects of the Small Project System
(SPS) for the benefit of your clients.
You’ll find SPS both recognizable and different.
SPS is recognizable because of compatibility
with the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) PMBOK® (Project Management Body
SPS is different in the ultra-intense focus on the
Critical First 5% using
ultra-lightweight, empirical methods.
It’s Not a Single
Small projects are likened to "…being nibbled to death by ducks.”
In addition to a relatively few large
projects, your clients have a large
number of small projects. By
themselves, [probably] no one small effort presents meaningful challenges.
Which would be the end of this story…except…small projects
don’t exist by themselves.
Small projects exist is a chaotic
tangle. They are interdependent and aggregated. The chaotic hash obscures
significant problems. And they can also present
a valuable opportunity for you.
Large or small, projects are designed to:
establish and manage project expectations and
on deliverables and the meaning of success
Build consensus regarding approach, timing &
Empirical or Process?
Larger, more "process-driven,” projects can afford the
burden of rigor. Although small projects can’t afford such burden—they have the
need…which can be met two ways.
One is "empirical processes.” Fundamentally different from
traditional process-driven methods, an "empirical process” approach focuses on
outcomes; not the process. To do this, measure outputs; not steps.
The other way is to affect your client’s mental models.
Project Managers—and everyone associated with a project—have
incomplete project mental models. Individual models are shaped by perceptions, experiences,
assumptions, the absence—and presence—of information, and a variety of other
Consultants add value by helping clients move quickly from
unknowingly constrained mental models representing one incomplete view—to a
unified mental model reflecting all views.
As a consultant, you provide great value facilitating your
client’s unified mental model. Specifically, this means, bring them
together…not via Email…and without delays.
Why are delays dangerous? Latency is an invisible, negative
influence on projects. The SPS advocates "…fast,
unequivocal ‘Decisions-Made’ are preferred to superlative decision-making.”
How can Decisions-Made
be achieved? By the artful use of a single page.
with a Single Page
The use of a single page leads to maximum expressivity with
a minimum of space. The effective use of careful structure within a constrained
space helps people think and express themselves more clearly. A single page is also readily accessible and
quickly understood; thus, communication is also accelerated.
While the single page is helpful, the collaborative,
feedback-intensive process used to create the single page is most beneficial
for clients. When more rigorous artifacts are needed, authoring them is easier.
Why? The most important decisions and agreements were achieved—by the affected
parties—while creating the single page.
Small Projects Mean
Large Consulting Value
You can immediately provide extra value to your clients and
their large number of small projects:
Force latency out of initiation using empirical
Fast, unequivocal "Decisions-Made” are preferred
to superlative decision-making.
Simple, accessible artifacts are preferred to
Dr. Rick Hubbard first
earned his CMC in 1986 and has participated been active in the Northern
California Chapter and the national IMC organization. He’s
helped practitioners—in a dozen countries—save millions of dollars with the
Small Project System (http://www.SmallProjectSystem.com).
He has been certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP) by the Project
Management Institute; a Certified ScrumMaster member of the Scrum Alliance; a
Member of the Systems Dynamics Society.
"CHAOS Summary 2009,” Standish Group.
Gleick, James. (1988). Chaos: Making a
New Science. New York, NY. Penguin Books.