This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.
Friday, June 27, 2003
Plan the Process II -- Several days ago, I posted an excerpt of a discussion list comment by Bruce Thomas, suggesting that in a discovery project, while you can't necessarily plan the outcomes, you can plan the promise. In the comments on that piece, Jack Vinson asked...
"By "planning the process" does Bruce Thomas mean that we need to have an explicit expermental plan, replete with expected decision points?"
Not wanting to put words in Bruce's mouth, I posed that question to him, and he responded...
"It's getting to the decision point that often proves to be the challenge.
"You must have an "explicit experimental plan" that forms the concept and scenario for the whole effort, but the scientists and researchers often have that even before a "planner" appears on the scene, because that's interesting to them. But significant project delays can and do occur for lack of a plan and schedule ("you can't schedule R&D") for execution of the more mundane tasks required prior to actual test execution. Examples of these might include processing a procurement to acquire test facilities or equipment; or perhaps design, creation, and testing the software that will conduct the tests (or, ugh! a configuration managed test database).
"In one case, I know of a set of experiments delayed for two years because the research scientist hated the administrative work involved in getting money budgeted, and then getting a statement of work written for a needed contract. All delays were accepted as due to being on the "bleeding edge of technology"."
[For want of a nail...]
"Now, we must also remember that the mere existence of a schedule gets no projects accomplished either, especially remembering that the more theoretical researchers almost always march to their own drummer. For R&D projects, good PM might mean getting a good technical administrator to take care of budgets and procurements and such. As in all projects, it means being aware of the plan and getting people to perform the mundane work that forms the basis for all achievement."
In my opinion, it also means providing a sense of where we expect to be in the "unexpectable" discovery process so that the organization, sponsor, and/or customer can make reasonable assessments about the progress made toward the promised land and whether to stay the course or pull the plug...Bruce's challenge of the "decision point."
posted by Frank - Permanent Link -