Waiting For A Miracle…

images-8Over the years I have reviewed hundreds of projects and one of the things that always amazes me is the number of Project Managers who still believe in Miracles.

Too often I seen projects which have made so little progress during the first 10 months of the project, but yet the project manager believes that suddenly in the last 2 months, the team can triple their out puts in order to complete the project on time.

This is wishful thinking, in my experience this very rarely happens, it’s like a boxer who has been outfought for 11 rounds hoping to win by knockout in the last round.

In reality boxers who have been beaten for 11 rounds are more likely to get knocked out themselves, than they are to deliver a knockout blow.

images-7We even have a term for this wishful thinking, it’s called the Hockey Stick Effect, it’s where performance magically just increases out of all proportion compared to previous months.

Expecting this miracle is like hoping that you can get a woman to give birth within 9 months even though she only became pregnant in month 8.

Or even worse that you can solve this problem by having 9 women pregnant for 1 month, and hoping that this equates to the same as one woman being pregnant for nine months.

We can’t just double or triple the resources involved at then end and expect that the output will reflect this sudden increase in effort, or that we will suddenly find a way to boost our efficiency way beyond that we were achieving before.

It just doesn’t work like that.

I appreciate that it might work for Harry Potter, but for the rest of us mere mortals it’s not an approach that will end in success.

This is why we need to have a plan, transparency into that plan so that we can monitor and check that we are on track, and then we can make the adjustments needed early enough in the project before we end up needing a miracle.

I am reminded of this as I approach the final few weeks of my preparation for the Vancouver Marathon.

I am behind schedule in my training, as I have and a minor injury and have been travelling, but fortunately I have done enough work in the previous months such that I am not that far behind and in the next two weeks I will be able to recover what ground I have lost, in order to put me in a position to succeed.

If we need to increase output and to do that we need to increase the resources involved, then we need to do it at a time which will allow them to be able to become effective.

There is  always a ramp up period for new resources and if we add too many too soon, then we may even see that overall output drops as we work to get them up to speed.

The best route to success is to start strongly, look to build momentum and get ahead of the plan, there will always be set backs along the way, and if we can build some cushion then we will be able to handle them more easily.

I much prefer to cruise to victory than looking and waiting for a miracle thats not going to come.

Gordon Tredgold

Leadership Principles