It’s summer time, so I am always on the look-out for something amusing. Glen Alleman is a serious project manager who unearthed a humorous – but essentially profound – set of Laws of Project Management, which he calls Brasington’s Laws, after Bil Brasington who first articulated them. I won’t steal all of his thunder by listing them all – they are well worth a look, on Glen’s Blog, Herding Cats.
Brasington’s 1st, 3rd and 7th Laws
Brasington’s First Law
‘No major project is ever installed on time, within budget, or with the staff that started it. Yours will not be the first.’
Brasington’s Third Law
‘One advantage of fuzzy project objectives is that they let you avoid the embarrassment of estimating the corresponding costs.’
Brasington’s Seventh Law
‘A carelessly planned project will take three times longer to complete than expected; a carefully planned project will take only twice as long.’
Of course, you can’t – they’re laws, after all. However, good project managers will at least try to hold their own against the chaos. This means a carefully planned project is in order.
To do this, you need to set aside the third law and start with the clearest articulation of project objectives that you can create. To do this, you need to bring together the key stakeholders to agree what success will look like. How will each stakeholder evaluate the outcome, and what criteria will they use to measure success?
Photo credit: viZZZual.com
Objective Setting = Negotiation
Sadly, you will rarely work with a set of stakeholders with a single vision of success. As a project manager, you need to conduct a set of negotiations to bring all stakeholders into alignment around a core set of objectives that they can all agree on. Once you have done that, you must then create and agree with them a process for agreeing any variations to this. If you don’t, then you will surely fall prey to …
Brasington’s 5th Law
Brasington’s Fifth Law
’If project content is allowed to change freely, the rate of change will exceed the rate of progress.’
This is a nice metaphor for much of what real project management really is – and is the image that Pocketbooks illustrator, Phil Hailstone, placed on the cover of The Project Management Pocketbook, by Keith Posner and Mike Applegarth.
This excellent Pocketbook has more on defining outcomes, setting objectives and working with stakeholders.
Other Management Pocketbooks
Project Managers might Enjoy
- The Managing Change Pocketbook
- The Teamworking Pocketbook
- The Negotiator’s Pocketbook
- The Virtual Teams Pocketbook
- The Motivation Pocketbook
- The Problem Solving Pocketbook
You may also enjoy the author’s own Project Management blog, Shift Happens!