The project plan should be the basis for getting things done during an implementation.
Without a project plan, you might as well buy a Conch and see what happens.
Conch? Really? Please tell me that you got that Lord of the Flies reference.
With a project plan, you’ll have some semblance of organization. (With less death on your hands)
However, the most challenging part of creating and maintaining a project is understanding the reality that should go into it. As reality changes during the project, are you re-mapping? Here are a few prevalent issues that occur in projects.
The Planning Fallacy
The planning fallacy is a phenomenon in which predictions about how much time will be needed to complete a future task display an optimism bias and underestimate the time required. In short, most people aren’t great at planning the required work.
“The key is to refine the plan throughout the project rather than do it all up front. Plan in just enough detail to deliver the next increment of value, and estimate the remainder of the project in larger chunks. In Scrum, at the end of each iteration you have something of value that you can see, touch, and show to customers. You can ask them: “Is this what you want? Does this solve at least a piece of your problem? Are we going in the right direction?” And if the answer is no, change your plan.”
The Sunk Cost Fallacy
The Sunk Cost fallacy is that you can become too overly attached to an idea if you’ve already spent significant time and resources related to that idea. This attachment causes us to defend our original estimate, sometimes ignoring new information when it conflicts.
“The sunk-cost fallacy keeps people for too long in poor jobs, unhappy marriages, and unpromising research projects. I have often observed young scientists struggling to salvage a doomed project when they would be better advised to drop it and start a new one.”Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Economist and author of ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’
Sometimes if our initial success metrics are too detailed or complicated, we forget the true intent of the project and make the ‘plan’ the priority.
When a change happens in a project, are you objectively reviewing it? Or are you carrying the weight of the past into your decision? Unfortunately, too many people “stay the course” because they’ve already invested too much. If that is the case, how much more will it cost to remedy, and is it more than starting over?
The Narrative Fallacy
The Narrative fallacy describes what happens when a person puts a series of circumstances, happenings, or life events into a logical order so they can process it more easily. It’s an important function that helps us deal with everyday life.
“The narrative fallacy addresses our limited ability to look at sequences of facts without weaving an explanation into them, or, equivalently, forcing a logical link, an arrow of relationship upon them. Explanations bind facts together. They make them all the more easily remembered; they help them make more sense. Where this propensity can go wrong is when it increases our impression of understanding.”Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of “The Black Swan”
Our human desire to put events into stories may help us cope but can skew the events’ narrative and memory. In an implementation (and its corresponding project plan), it’s essential to look for patterns (ways to improve) while noting that we tend to put disparate things together that may not necessarily be connected.
Additional Notes on common pitfalls can be found in Scrum the Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland.
References and Resources
Originally Posted March 18, 2018