Apply the Simplicity Cycle to Project Management

I like to explore project successes and the things that lead to success. Here, I’m exploring what happens when you’re project is a 100% success, but in reality it’s a flop.  Imagine this situation:

You and your team just spent the last six months working on a system enhancement, you’ve delivered on all the requirements, on schedule, on budget…. A success.  But the users struggle with the system, finding it to difficult to use and wish that they had the old system back.  Still a success?

Never happens- right? Just a training or change management issue. Perhaps.  But, perhaps not.   It’s possible that you’ve made a wrong turn on the simplicity cycle. The what?  In The Simplicity Cycle, by Dan Ward he explains.  It’s a short, FREE book that actually lives up to its title.  It’s a simple read – yet challenging and thought provoking.  At under an hour read, Dan presents concepts that we should all consider as we plan and deliver projects.  So, if you are in the role of project, program or portfolio leader, and you drive change in your organization, you need to consider Dan’s message, as it will challenge you to strive toward simple, as opposed increasing, complexity.

It’s a natural tendency and simple arithmetic.   If:

  • 1 is good and 2 is better
  • then 100 must be incredibly good. 

But, often it’s not that way.  For example, when it comes to adopting PPM, we’ve been preaching simple as a starting point. However, when given the opportunity to digitize a process, it’s deliciously tempting to try to account for every possible variation, turning a four step process into 20 steps or more.   Where there was true value in the four step solution, the 20 step solution creates so much overhead and hassle that it’s despised.  Sound familiar?

The point is that the simple arithmetic of 1, 2, 100 is often flawed.   When it comes to features and parts, it all adds to complexity and there is a point in every system where more features, actually makes the system WORSE, not better.

Here’s Dan’s Simplicity Cycle diagram, which simply illustrates the basic concept.  More is not better and less Simplicity Cycle2.png
is often more.  It’s complicated, so you should really read the book.   😉

The end of the book is almost as good as the beginning (lots of pictures), because he wraps up with a handful of patterns of how the complexity cycle works in different situations and I’m sure you will find some that resonate.

Unless you and your teams are consciously aware of the implications of the simplicity cycle, adding features and functionality is a slippery slope, which does not always lead to success.

What do you think?  

Have you seen this in your experience?   How do you think this applies to managing your portfolio? 

If you’re interested in HP PPM, you can follow us on the HP PPM Blog  or even follow us @HPPPM on Twitter.

Article source: HP PPM Blog

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