The Eagle Blog

Reinventing the Wheel

How many times have you struggled through a project … whether at work or at home … learned some lessons the hard way, and then moved on to the next “project’?

It never ceases to amaze me how often we do that in business and at home, we end up making the same mistakes, and learning the same lessons over again.

So … whenever I am faced with a new “project” the first thing I like to do is think about how we can capture the “lessons learned”, and develop a standard “framework” that can be used for similar projects going forward.

The first and probably most critical step is to find “experience” elsewhere … who has done this before and what lessons have they learned? Better still do they have a framework that we can use? The elements of this are very familiar to anyone in the project management world … but as I have mentioned previously even those people don’t necessarily learn and capture their lessons in a structured manner. Witness my experience with our new condo that I wrote about recently.

I firmly believe that technology could be a great aid for this type of approach … but it is not absolutely necessary. What IS necessary is:

1. a standard set of Tasks
2. the actions required to complete each Task.
3. a timeline that shows what needs to be done before other tasks and what can be done concurrently. (critical path)
4. the resources (how many and what skill sets) to complete each task.
5. the types of barriers encountered and how they were overcome (lessons learned or frequently asked questions)
6. A set of contacts who could be useful as advisers through the project
7. A set of resources that would be useful … eg where to find “stuff”
8. A description of the best approach (subjective) to ensure the project gets off on the right foot.

If this is captured electronically then it is easier to modify, update, share etc. If project management software is used it allows for the diagramming and modification of critical paths quickly … however some knowledge of the software and project management is required.

This approach can be applied to any situation that might be replicated. Eg. building something physical, writing a report, planning a trip, developing a business plan, a home renovation project, learning a new language … just about anything. Each can have its own methodology so that you get it right every time!

I think your goal in starting any new venture should be to NOT reinvent the wheel. No matter how clever you are you can always learn from those who have been there before you. Worst case you learn what not to do … best case you inherit best practices that will save you time energy and grief!


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8 thoughts on “Reinventing the Wheel

  1. You never seem to lack for blog topics, but I have never seen you comment about the value of a PMP (Project Management Professional) designation.

    Is this credential, which is becoming very popular, a valuable thing to have in one's resume?

  2. You never seem to lack for blog topics, but I have never seen you comment about the value of a PMP (Project Management Professional) designation.

    Is this credential, which is becoming very popular, a valuable thing to have in one's resume?

  3. Don … I think in general that any certification is viewed positively, and there are definitely places where designations are preferred.

    My impression is that the PMP specifically seems to be more valued in "engineering type" circles than the "business sytems" world. That of course is a generalisation. Places like Nortel and the other hi-tech companies were "big" on PMP, while I think the banks and government projects (as examples) have not been as demanding.

    I would also suggest that sentiment is changing and there is more awareness of the PMP designation. Certainly the many high profile project "failures/disasters/overruns" puts a big focus on professional project management.

    To better answer your question, a PMP is worth having on the resume. Worst case it will differentiate you from the next guy, best case it will be a "mandatory" on a client's role description.

  4. Don … I think in general that any certification is viewed positively, and there are definitely places where designations are preferred.

    My impression is that the PMP specifically seems to be more valued in "engineering type" circles than the "business sytems" world. That of course is a generalisation. Places like Nortel and the other hi-tech companies were "big" on PMP, while I think the banks and government projects (as examples) have not been as demanding.

    I would also suggest that sentiment is changing and there is more awareness of the PMP designation. Certainly the many high profile project "failures/disasters/overruns" puts a big focus on professional project management.

    To better answer your question, a PMP is worth having on the resume. Worst case it will differentiate you from the next guy, best case it will be a "mandatory" on a client's role description.

  5. PMP's are very fashionable where in the large public sector organization that I am currently working at.

    I say 'fashionable' because many junior employees who have never managed a project before are earning their PMP by passing the exam. (PMI has lowered the passing grade).

    Long time PMPs deplore this trend, because it is beginning to erode the value of this credential, which used to be reserved for people with a lot of project management experience.

  6. PMP's are very fashionable where in the large public sector organization that I am currently working at.

    I say 'fashionable' because many junior employees who have never managed a project before are earning their PMP by passing the exam. (PMI has lowered the passing grade).

    Long time PMPs deplore this trend, because it is beginning to erode the value of this credential, which used to be reserved for people with a lot of project management experience.

  7. That's an interesting insight. I have a couple of observations, based on my experiences.

    1. Education enhances experience, but can't replace it. Experience supported by education yields the best results.
    2. There are times when the junior resource can do the job. Sometime clients want and demand very senior people to do a job that could be done by a less experienced person. The problem there is that (a0 the senior person is not challenged (b) the client pays too much and (c) the junior person misses out on some good experience.

    It seems that lowering standards is the way education seems to trend. It means you don't have to fail as many people and you can sell more classes … is that a little cynical?

    I was not aware that PMP was that popular in government … guess I have to get out more often! 🙂

  8. That's an interesting insight. I have a couple of observations, based on my experiences.

    1. Education enhances experience, but can't replace it. Experience supported by education yields the best results.
    2. There are times when the junior resource can do the job. Sometime clients want and demand very senior people to do a job that could be done by a less experienced person. The problem there is that (a0 the senior person is not challenged (b) the client pays too much and (c) the junior person misses out on some good experience.

    It seems that lowering standards is the way education seems to trend. It means you don't have to fail as many people and you can sell more classes … is that a little cynical?

    I was not aware that PMP was that popular in government … guess I have to get out more often! 🙂

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