All Projects & Efforts are Systems—and What That Means to You

Every effort (e.g., project, product development, strategy, event) you have, or will, worked/work on has three common elements:Golden-Spiral-v20130712

  1. Structure,
  2. Behavior, and
  3. Interconnectivity (of elements).

These three ideas (structure, behavior, interconnectivity) are also the key concepts in the definition of a system.

What Does this Mean to You?

All choices and changes affect the execution and outcomes of your efforts…in ways both visible as well as not-so.

Your future success depends on understanding the implications of both. Why? Because seemingly sensible choices—when understood at a level beneath the “surface”—can be predicted to lead to bad outcomes.

Implications of Structure, Behavior and…?

Most (if not all) implications of a choice or change regarding an effort’s “behavior” are considered in terms of the impact on “structure” by “increases” and/or “decreases.”

For example…given an IT project to create and implement a new business process (of some type where you have familiarity):

  • Form a “mental model” of the effort based on a “routine schedule and level-of-effort.”
  • Now, cut the schedule in half (i.e., a significant decrease).
  • What is the impact on the effort’s level-of-effort? Obviously, to produce the same work and deliverables in half the time will require an increase in resources (double?).

Structure and behavior is where the thought-process of many professionals stops; for example: “…to implement the deliverables in half the schedule we need to double the project staff.” Seems like a perfectly sensible assessment.

What About Interconnectivity?

What is the affect on halving the schedule and doubling the staff on quality? Management? Risks? Testing? Costs?

To what degree do these aspects of an effort increase? Decrease?

Then…what about their effect on re-work? Does re-work increase? Decrease?

Given the performance of an effort’s structure…what is affect of increasing re-work? What happens to schedule and resources when an increasing portion of work is consumed by re-work?

You Decide

Do the above outcomes provide any insights as to why late projects become later? Why poor quality leads to even worse quality?

  • Have you ever noticed an increase in the number, duration and frequency of meetings when an effort is failing? There are clues to this baffling, non-linear behavior, above.

What do you think…is the systematic nature (structure, behavior, interconnectivity) of all efforts an explanation?

In the Next Post

In the next post…All Efforts Require Three Designs—Yet Most Professionals are Only Aware of Two.

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