Web Project Management Analogy – Part 1:

by Bogdan on January 28, 2010

Why is an online project more like a … submarine?

Don’t jump the gun: it’s not about the art of how to sink a nice online project– let’s face it, we already can do this without any advice. Rather, is a simple analogy which you may share with those who don’t have a clue of how is to be involved in an online project: to understand and – most important – to feel, the very same way, as someone involved in such an existing adventure.

First of all, I want to be upfront about this: my views don’t come from any project management books, or articles, or materials, may these be endorsed or not by Project Management Institute – the world’s most recognized professional association for project managers. Oh no:  my PMP certification has little to do with this article – it just my 12+ years experience in managing online teams, real, virtual, from Europe, North America and New Zealand.

OK: enough with the small talk. Imagine that you take a dive in water. Weather you are in your scuba dive, in a small submarine or even in the latest, largest built nuclear submarine there a common of similar factors:

  • Limited resources everywhere you look (oxygen, food, fuel, manpower, time) and – sometime even worse – everything is predictable (same fiod, same air, etc) – same thing like in a project: money, people, time, are limited (and usually not enough), and it’s hard – once the project started – to add too much variety (same faces, some things to clarify, etc)
  • You can not see the final destination, and most of the time, you don’t even know how to get there – same happens in a project: what exactly needs to be done (aka the project scope) is usually unclear, not to mention how to get it delivered
  • Your own experience depends where you look: magnificent, if you glare through the submarine’s side window, and – on the opposite – quite depressing when contemplating the tiniest restroom you’ll ever see – the same happens inside a project: it’s up to you to look at the bright side of things, like the long term benefits of having the project completed, rather than complaining of the pain on getting things done
  • In the depth of the ocean, you are protected from the rough waves, but on the other hand, you don’t know who may be hunting you, until it’s too late – this one may not be that obvious, but usually a project is somehow protected by the sudden changes within a company, but on the other hand, someone outside the project might secretly try to play his own games
  • Pressure is a constant fact: it just another hostile environment, but it depends  how we use it – similar, in a project we always have some kind of stress, but– unless stress is constant, it’s a great thing, as it help us growing and pushing ourselves.
  • Last, but not least: if you are not reaching the final destination, everyone might be in jeopardy: the submarine, the crew, even the waters of the ocean – same as in a project: the failure to deliver might be critical for the team members, dfor the project itself and – in extreme cases – even for the company as a whole.

In my following articles on how a project is similar to a submarine, I’ll give you the eyes, the mind and the heart of the project manager (or of the submarine’s captain if you like) as well as the submarine’s crew perspective (or the project team views). And of course, more analogies…

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{ 4 trackbacks }

Web Project Management Analogy – Part 2:
February 4, 2010 at 5:22 pm
Web Project Management Analogy – Part 3:
February 4, 2010 at 5:26 pm
Web Project Management Analogy – Part 5
February 5, 2010 at 12:12 am
Web Project Management Analogy – Part 4
February 15, 2010 at 9:32 pm

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