project planning

Article - The Best Example To Explain Optimism Bias Phenomenon

 

As a part of my project management course I frequently have to talk about the estimation-related phenomenon known as "optimism bias". Succinctly stated optimism bias is described as follows:

We as the species of homo sapiens tend to overestimate our abilities required to perform a specific task and underestimate the complexity of the task in question

Usually when one provides his audience with a complicated and slightly boring definition, he has to follow up with a clear, simple and hopefully entertaining example. Throughout my consulting and teaching career I tried using a number of case studies including pretty much every megaproject on this list. However each and every example used has been met with mixed feelings. Sometimes people never heard about the Denver Airport Baggage Handling system and sometimes they failed to see the connection between optimism bias and the overall project failure.

I kinda gave up on finding the best illustration for this phenomenon, until one of my friends told me the following story:

His son has just started going to the kindergarten and he and his wife agreed that he would pick them up from the bus station located not too far from their home. They have also agreed that his wife would give him a call once she was ready to leave the office (kindergarten was located nearby). So at one point of time he receives a call from his significant other stating that he should pick them up at the bus stop in 15 minutes. Being a responsible person he exits his home right away and arrives at the bus station with 5 minutes to spare.

Five, ten, fifteen, thirty minutes go by. No sign of his wife and kid. Finally forty minutes after the expected deadline (sorry for the project management nerd talk) his family exits from the bus ... The following conversation ensues:

H: Where have you been? I have been waiting here for more than half an hour! And more importantly, why did you tell me it would take you 15 minutes to get here?

Training - Project Management Masterclass

Course Overview

This course is about skills, tools, techniques and economic principles that transcend various company structures, environments and project management philosophies. It is about essential “hands-on” tools and techniques needed by contemporary project managers. The focus of this workshop is on the practitioner's rather than the academic view of project management including tricks, tips, soft skills and “guerilla warfare” tactics and the economics of project management in particular and strategic business decision-making in general.

Why You Should Attend?

Recent studies indicate that only 32% of our projects can be considered successful, while 44% are challenged (i.e. grossly over the budget and/or late) and 24% are outright failures (i.e. cancelled by the customers before they are even completed). Further research shows that the lion’s share of this lack of success can be attributed to poor requirements elicitation, insufficient planning and inadequate project control.

This course will demonstrate to the participants how to perform these tasks properly and efficiently by teaching them skills, tools, techniques and economic principles that transcend various company structures, environments and project management philosophies.

Article - How And Why Do We Write Project Charters?

NOTE: See also the “Downloads” section of the website for the Project Plan template.

Initiation "Barbarossa"

Late in 1940 the Soviet government was starting to get concerned that the country was in danger of German invasion despite the signing of the peace treaty with the Nazis in 1939. The suspicions were initially aroused because Hitler began to accumulate a significant number of motorized, infantry and tank divisions in the vicinity of the Soviet-German border. However German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop continued to insist that those troops were simply preparing for the Operation Sealion - the invasion of England.

wewriteproject1Joseph Stalin, the dictatorial leader of the Soviet Union, who did not exactly have a reputation as an overly trusting individual, needed reliable information regarding German plans and intentions. He delegated this task to Fillip Golikov, the head of powerful and highly secretive GRU, the Chief Intelligence Directorate (Military Intelligence).

Golikov concluded that he required some certain indicators that would tip him off about the impending invasion. As a result, all GRU operatives in Europe were ordered to keep a watchful eye on the ... sheep farming industry. The head of GRU ordered his staff to create a file on every large sheep breeder and on every market where sheep were sold. From that point on he would receive a daily report with prices of sheepskins and mutton from all major European livestock breeding centers.

Furthermore, Soviet spies started paying a lot of attention to ... oiled rags discarded by wewriteproject2German soldiers after cleaning of their weapons. These rags were gathered all over Europe (wherever German troops were stationed) and dispatched to Moscow via diplomatic channels. Upon arrival in Moscow the rags were transferred to the leading research centers for analysis.

Article - Are We Supposed To Negotiate On Projects?

"Operation Husky": Allied Forces and Don Calo

"Operation Husky", the Allied invasion of Sicily started on July 9th, 1943. It was a large-scale amphibious and airborne operation, followed by six weeks of land combat. The Anglo-Canadian forces landed on the east cost of the island and had a seemingly simple task in front of them. The resistance was known to be poorly equipped with weapons and ammunition; in some cases their positions were defended by captured Russian artillery that nobody could operate because the Italian army forgot to translate the operating manuals. And yet, despite all of the planning shortcomings, the Italians fought well and it took English and Canadian forces five weeks and thousands of casualties to reach their objective - the town of Messina.

arewesupposed1American troops, on the other hand, had a much tougher challenge: the occupation of the mountainous centre and western half of the island. Nevertheless, the American Seventh Army was able to reach the north coast of Sicily in only seven days and with hardly a shot fired. What allowed the US troops to accomplish "the fastest blitzkrieg in history", as General Patton once described this campaign?

According to some historians, the American government managed to strike a deal with the most powerful man on the island, the capo di tutti capi of the Sicilian mafia - Don Calogero Vizzini. The US Office of Strategic Services (OSS) - the wartime predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) - recruited Charles "Lucky" Luciano to act as an intermediary between the advancing US Army and "La Cosa Nostra". As a result of these negotiations the mafia protected the roads from snipers, arranged enthusiastic welcomes for the advancing troops, arewesupposed2encouraged mass desertions from the Italian army and provided guides through the confusing mountain terrain.