Be Fast or Be Gone

Andreas Scherer's business novel, Be Fast or Be Gone: Racing the Clock with Critical Chain Project Management, was a very fast read for me. I thought it did a great job of describing how Critical Chain Project Management might be introduced to an organization without going into the gory detail of what-is-CCPM. It isn't a manual on how to do CCPM, but rather a story of how it might work from initial introduction to pilot to larger implementation.

I have to say, though, that the backstory of the main character's child having cancer was almost too much for me. My kids are about the same age, and those parental worries are a little too close. Tears were shed.

Having read many TOC business novels, this one follows a familiar pattern, which probably made the reading quick for me. The situation is set up through the familiar aspects of the current project management environment in the book. Every company is different, of course, but there should be many very familiar aspects in this story. This one had things like management-by-milestones (which are usually missed); projects created from (unchallenged) templates; too many things pulling on attention; no clear prioritization; little to no transparency on the true status of projects; and several others.

I particularly liked Scherer's description of "Schedule Chicken," where people try to out-last each other on admitting there might be a problem. If your problem is bigger than mine, then I am going to be okay. (And the fact that "admitting" there is a problem is its own problem.)

Scherer took this book down the path of showing the value of CCPM through an pilot implementation on a high-profile project, which ended up finishing much earlier than anyone suspected. Given that success, the protagonist is given the opportunity to do the same thing with the entire portfolio of projects.

While Scherer does a good job of describing CCPM, I like how he talked about the implementation process. What does it take to build a decent project network that will work in a CCPM environment? (Hint, don't just take the standard template.) How can you go about prioritizing an entire portfolio of projects? Who is responsible for these things?

One thing that surprised me is that he didn't talk about a big aspect of multi-project CCPM: not only do you need to prioritize work, but you often need to decide to STOP WORKING on some projects because there are simply too many things going on for the people available to do the work. There is a section of the story that addresses resource overloads, and Scherer takes the discussion in the direction of figuring out how to resolve the overloads, rather than automatically assuming that the resource is overloaded. I almost like this approach, since organizations often don't know what their true capacity is.

Overall a great description of the world of CCPM and the world that I've found myself in for the last several years. It's the implementation where reality strikes the concepts underlying CCPM.

1 Comment(s)

Jack Vinson Author Profile Page said:

Johanna Rothman had a piece on Schedule Chicken back in 2005: http://www.jrothman.com/Papers/schedule-chicken.html

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