How Little Can you Do?


Many project managers (and senior management) still have the mindset of “How much can we fit into this project?” instead of “How little can we do?”

How-much thinking carries these assumptions (even if your managers don't agree):

  • People are a scarce resource, and that we should put all of them to use immediately, working like mad on the project.
  • Schedule really doesn't matter.
  • Cost of development is not a driving factor

How-little thinking carries these assumptions:

  • Understanding the requirements is a scarce resource, and we should focus our energies towards delivering something that shows we understand the specific requirement and the value it has to our customer.
  • Schedule is critical and we don't have time to do it again, or build technical debt
  • Project cost is important, and we need to manage it

What I find fascinating is that many managers say that the characteristics of how-little thinking are important, but they manage according to how-much. The next time you or your management asks how much, maybe you can ask how little. If nothing else, you can help clarify everyone's assumptions.

3 thoughts on “How Little Can you Do?”

  1. I think there is a subtle, but distinct difference between a ‘Product’ and a ‘Project’. In regards to a ‘Project’ the “How-little” and “How-much” analogies definitely apply; however, I seen these mind sets used repeatedly over time and utimately tarnish or even kill products because one mindset was used consistently over the other. For this, I generally operate somewhere in the middle of these two:
    1. I do think that people are scarce
    2. Schedules really does matter, but not to the extent of everything else
    3. Cost of development is generally not the driving factor
    4. Requirements are important, but Requirement Specifications are of very limited value (Actual sales, increased productivity, or lower cost are much better measurements)
    5. Tasks and items should be measured against the schedule and features and fixes should be provided in phases
    6. Project cost is only considered when additional resources are needed (hardware, software, or people)

  2. Pingback: Kill, Commit, or Transform Your Projects | TuxWire : The Linux Blog

  3. Pingback: Apply “How Little” Thinking to Agile Management Control | Java Code Geeks | Aquaiver IT Solutions

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