Wednesday, November 30, 2022

A flat project no more?

The world was flat, but perhaps no more.
The same applies to projects.

In the flat system, we have these properties:
  • There is no "place". Anybody and anything can be anywhere that there is connectivity
  • Capital flows (largely 'cost' in the project world) are nearly borderless. They are quick, inexpensive transactions that can move the money to the cost center at a stroke
  • Cost centers locate to the most efficient areas, and such searches for cost effectiveness can be somewhat dynamic
  • Insofar as components have to have some 'national identity', assembly or manufacturing is "colored" by these requirements.
  • Supply chains (actually, not a chain but a mesh of nodes and links) link everything; nodes and links are optimized to provide maximum efficiency and fault resistance.
  • Supply, manufacturing, and assembly are anti-hierarchical. They are borderless-flat
  • The 'US dollar' is supreme, and safe; everybody trades relative to the dollar.
  • Labor is somewhat fungible. There are trained workforces, of course, but similar workforces are interchangeable.
  • Labor loyalty is weak; labor moves around, seeking maximum return on personal interests
  • Risks are global in their spread
The Covid crises emphasized many of these properties. 
But, as they say: 'Covid is over' (except perhaps in China)

Now, in the post-Covid world we see also some counter-forces to the flat world, and by extension, the flat project:
  • Return to the office
  • Dress the part
  • Work reasonable hours; rebalance work and off-work
  • Be a team player, less of an individualist
  • Set up borders and boundaries to 'contain' activity within a physical sphere or economic or national zone, as it were
  • Contain risks to the home front
  • Promote loyalty
  • Keep the money at home
  • Pay more as a cost input, but also expect the customer to pay more to the top line in the name of 'buy local'
If you see this coming, you may want to rebaseline for less flatness!

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