A friend just shared a link over at twitter to a blog post by Scott Berkun — The magic numbers of project management. The part on “What to do instead” just made me nod in agreement… especially at the part below (emphasis mine).
The best way to think about estimates is that it’s a culture, not a formula. It’s no accident better teams are better at staying on schedule. They ask better questions and care about things most people on projects ignore. What are those things? You discover them for your kind of projects by going back and studying. Focus leadership attention on the dozens of factors that contribute to scheduling, note some basic and fundamental things you missed, and consider applying that knowledge, as a team, the next time around. Don’t fight the last war, but make sure to learn from it.
It also reminded me of something I’ve read and mentioned in passing to another friend on the bothering to reflect. In the book, it raised two questions: What did we learn? What can we do better? To my friend, I asked the rhetorical questions: What are we doing wrong? What are we doing right? Another colleague raised a question which he thinks not many would appreciate: Are we (as a company) good at what we do?
Asking and reflecting at these kinds of questions, looking into our past project experiences for ways we can improve, introspection — these are things that could help us. Although we
sometimes do have project postmortems, yet sadly we encounter the same problems over and over again (a lot of which are classic mistakes but that’s not an excuse). And maybe that’s one thing to do a CAR on — ironically, on why our CARs need to be CAR’d on.