Kids toys and project management

ImageThis children’s toy below reminded me of work this xmas, and kind of made me laugh – i am not saying that this is relevant to my current job but:

A 6 year old (our customer) wanted a big tower built like on the box. We had 5 people look at the picture on the box. One person abandoned their bit and decided to build a much grander design because she thought the customer would like it better. they each went away and made their own part of the project working frantically; there was a lot of communication with regards to their expectations and towards the end of the build everyone came together with their different towers and tried to connect them.
At this point we found that different people had built their towers but had also made assumptions about the connection points between each tower – rather than talk to each other they had built their own bit in isolation and in some points built bits belonging to other people – there was scope creep.
so the design at this point didn’t work – you couldn’t drop a marble and see it going from point A to point B. I had to explain to everyone where the marble was supposed to go, and order changes to get the towers working. Of course nobody wanted to admit their bit was wrong – and in isolation they had all done a good job of following the picture, but when you stepped back and saw they hadn’t cleanly delineated their parts of the project you could see it would never work.
After a little discussion we were able to finally come up with a solution that made the customer happy. He made a point of saying he didn’t care about the tower he just wanted to see the ball go from point A to B.
It made me smile – its a scene anyone working with IT project management would be all too familiar with!
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1 Comment

  1. Anna

     /  January 9, 2013

    Great story! Loved it…having in mind how IT projects go of course.
    I always wonder why people put in collaboration tend to isolate after they pick up an assignment?

    Why did they go apart?


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