It's the end of the month already. My,
time flies. I should write something introspective and
retrospective, summing up my brief exposure to the job hunting
market. I'll probably write something like that in my journal,
assuming I'm awake for it. Instead, today I want to loop back to
suggest a simple method for envisioning your project in multipledimensions.
Now, we bound projects in the iron
triangle (time, resources, scope/function) and generally involve
challenges ranging along contractual, financial, logistical, human
resource, political, and technical dimensions. I know there's more,
but I'm trying to be brief. We coordinate all of these elements intoa single project plan and one or more integrated time lines.
It's that later part I would like to
address. I don't know about you, but I can get a little focused on
one dimension of a project when I stay on it for too long. That's
good, in that I learn a lot about a particular bit of the puzzle.
If, for example, I'm head down on financial spreadsheets for a few
weeks, I'm likely to know more about it than anyone else. That's
bad, though, in that I lose track of all of the other dimensions of
the project. Focusing on the finances can, for example, lead me toneglect to update the political time line as we move forward.
Recognizing this failing in myself, I use the following tricks to get back in touch with the big picture:
- Breaking apart the time lines
It's an interesting hour's exercise to break your critical path back
down into its component parts. I tend to break it down into four
sections (financial, logistical, political, and technical) and then
try to reintegrate them based on the current project state. During
the integration I come up with a lot of questions; those questions
become the framework for my next walkabout.
- Take a pariah to lunch Every
large project team has one or more people the other team members do
not associate with. You probably already know who they are. Take
that person out to lunch and listen, really listen, to what they
have to say about the project and its project. Try to get them to
open up about two or more dimensions of the project, not just their
Sort your project issues and risk
lists No, not by severity, probability, or current mitigation
status. Sort them by dimension, looking at them in terms of what
you've identified and when you did it. For added interest, apply a
different time line (say a financial time line to the political
risks) and look for the patterns.
These tricks help me to rebuild my
mental map of the situation and reset my focus where it needs to be.
Obviously there are dozens, if not hundreds, more approaches I'mfond of using various mind mapping approaches as well.