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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Keep Your Measure of Project Success Simple

I was listening to the Accidental Creative Podcast where he was talking about setting aside personal creative time. What stood out in the podcast was the importance of defining success criteria even for personal projects. Why did that one piece resonate with me? As a business professional I have observed so many projects drag on to ultimate failure for any number of stated reasons; when in actuality there was no measure or definition of success before the project started. Now I know the technology professionals will tell you to look at their scope document it will state the success measures. I am going to argue that is not really the truth. the definition of project success needs to be so simple everyone can easily see that it was achieved.

Large projects should be broken down into smaller sub projects that can be measured with clear success. I think creative, technical, and operational professionals some times spend far to much time over complicating their projects and lose site of their objectives.
Occam's Razor says if you are confronted with multiple solutions it is best to pick the simplest one. Warren Buffet is identified as saying, "if you can't explain what you do in easy to understand terms then you are either hiding something or have no clue what you are doing". Both are right. It is better to keep things simplistic to enable better operational control but also so you can apply your efforts effectively and to good result. It's no good if you give up because you just can't achieve "success" define it up front and you can succeed.

What are your thoughts about defining success up front in simple terms?

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