Article - Top 10 Project Management Lessons from My Four-Year Old


This is my 100th post on LinkedIn, so to celebrate this event I decided to do something funny and light-hearted, but yet still relevant to the domain of project  management. The problem is that by the time I became a father, I have already been a fairly established PM professional, so I couldn't help but to look at this fatherhood thing through the proverbial “project management glasses”.

So, without further ado, here are the top 10 things I learned in the past four years:

Lesson #1 – Scope Creep (#projectscopemanagement)

No matter how much time you spend eliciting, analyzing and baselining your road-trip requirements, you scope of work can be instantaneously shattered by your rascal meditatively grabbing his behind followed by a simple, “Dad, I have to go. Number two. NOW!”

Lesson #2 – Buffer Time (#projecttimemanagement)

Remember, buffer time added to your estimates is your friend! The rule of thumb is fairly simple: however long it took you to accomplish the task before you had your kid, multiply that number by four (e.g. 15 minutes = 1 hour)

Lesson #3 – Critical Path Will Change All the Time (#projecttimemanagement)

Let us assume that you are planning two parallel tasks:

  • Task A – Comb your child’s hair (performed by you) and
  • Task B – Prepare a sandwich for the picnic in the park (your spouse)

You estimate:

  • Task A – 15 seconds
  • Task B – 7-10 minutes

Therefore task B is on the critical path, while task A has at least 6 minutes and 45 seconds of slack, right? Wrong!!! As soon as your fearless “Captain America” sees you with a hair brush in your hands, he throws a tantrum so bad, it causes his mother to run up the stairs screaming, “WHAT. ARE. YOU. DOING. TO HIM?”

As a result you have to join your efforts, thus making tasks A and B sequential rather than parallel.