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Agile/Scrum, Project Management

Project type and approach algorithm revisited

Last month, I published a post describing an algorithm to help decide what approach might be most appropriate for managing a project, based on how much you know about it at the start.

This generated some discussion on LinkedIn, particularly around the first step which asked: “Is this piece of work big enough to be managed as a project?”. I now think that’s the wrong question and it should be “Should this be managed as a project?”.


Of course, you need some clear criteria to be able to answer that question as well as a degree of organisational maturity.

A very interesting paper by van der Hoorn and Whitty says it all depends on capability. “We have argued that projects are not a thing, rather, people have projecty experiences. The degree of this projecty experience is relative to their capability to undertake the activity. Projectyness is a capability spectrum with very projecty (outside capability) at one extreme and not at all projecty (operational and within capability) at the other extreme.

So, it’s perfectly possible that one organisation might decide it has the capability not to need to carry out the work as a project, while another might make the opposite decision.

As an example, if someone asked me to cook Christmas dinner, it is way beyond my capability and I would absolutely have to plan it as a project. The outcome might still be a disaster!  In contrast, ask an experienced chef to cook Christmas dinner and he or she would simply get on with it; it is well within their capability and experience and is pretty much “business as usual”.

“Capability” is an interesting catch-all. It encompasses experience, skill, risk, resource, complexity, uncertainty and probably a whole host of other possible criteria.

So, here’s my revised algorithm:


N.B. JFDI is Just flippin’ do it













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