Project Manifesto

[I managed to delete this accidentally. Hopefully, I have the whole thing back here.]

The Project Manifesto: Transforming Your Life and Work with Critical Chain Values came out a few weeks ago and was available for free on Kindle for a little while. I snatched it up, expecting some more good stuff from Rob Newbold.  It's another business novel, but it strays from the formula a little (no grizzled guru in this one).  And it isn't a full-length treatment of project management or critical chain, which was somewhat of a surprise. Clearly, for those who know Critical Chain, this is a key component. But the story just talks about it as a fait accompli instead of something to explain in detail.

The book's main focus is the introduction of the Project Manifesto, which takes queues from the Agile Manifesto that talks about values and which kinds of values are more important, rather than important vs unimportant. Rather than thinking about these values as in conflict*, it's that when the conflict comes up the manifesto provides a guide. And it turns out you get both if you focus on the right thing.  

Project Manifesto paradigm of the Relay Race:

  1. We value priorities over responsiveness.
  2. We value finishing over starting.
  3. We value speed over deadlines.
  4. We value shared goals over individual goals.

The story of the book is the development of these four elements of the Project Manifesto with anecdotes and discoveries from the team. And it is interesting that the authors don't spend a ton of time describing the hows and whys of each of these. Instead they provide some hints and suggestions and leave a lot to the reader's imagination.  

The narrative also develops some other concepts that Newbold and Lynch find useful in managing projects under Critical Chain, such as a set of work standards, an update checklist (before project team meetings), and a scheduling process.  Again, with my work in CCPM, these are familiar. But it is also useful to have them collected under one roof. Now I get to check them against my practice and introduction of CCPM with clients.  

* Given my background in Theory of Constraints, my ears perked up when I heard "conflict" and assumed that the conflict would be eliminated in a way that made one direction the obvious choice.  Newbold and Lynch don't bother drawing conflict diagrams, but they resolve the conflicts in a less-common way: by emphasizing A over B, the person/organization gets both.  Whereas, emphasizing B over A often nets neither.  Even when this is counter-intuitive.

One thing that the authors do that is somewhat refreshing: Implementing the project manifesto is not an easy thing, either with the emergency project that is the bulk of the book or with a full implementation that glosses over the gory details. It takes time to get people thinking a new way, and the narrative hints at the challenges and strategies they employed to really getting it working.  While some of the impacts might be felt early on in a CCPM (or Project Manifesto) implementation, the long-term effects must be monitored and guided.

Agile manifesto:

(We value):
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

Most of the novel portion of this business novel was perfectly reasonable. The one exception was the fiction on which the story revolved - an artificial intelligence that does some amazing things. I'm fine with the fiction. But I just read Daniel Suarez' Influx, which had advanced artificial intelligence as a key element of the future. I found it odd to have this in two books in a row.

This book will be something to talk about with my colleagues and friends who are running these kinds of projects. It will be interesting to see where these conversations lead.

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