Thursday, May 25, 2023

Working in the penumbra of the rules

Process and methodology are the name of the game in projects
We all know that
Select a methodology and it undoubtedly comes with its rules, procedures, gates, decision points, you name it ....

Any worthy methodology also comes with a historical record: what works; what doesn't; compromises; deviations; and exceptions, of course.

Take in all the dots
So, that's a lot of dots: all the methodology dots and all the historical record dots. What if, when you stand back a bit and look strategically at the sum or integration of the dots, you find grey areas where principles and tactics seem to conflict? You may even draw conclusions about the process that were only apparent when you took the integrated view.

Greater than the sum:
Another way to see this: a strategic view of the dots is a not that different from the concept that the "sum is greater than than the parts". And so the "uplift" is found in the shadow of the dots.

Penumbra workings
Using, applying, or working the stuff in the shadow of the main dots is what many call "working in the penumbra", where a penumbra as we know is the shadow area behind or adjacent to something more opaque. 

Working in the penumbra is working with conflicts, competitions, and perhaps choices that we really don't want to make: personal, cultural, technical, quality, schedule, scope trades and choices that are hard and not really win/win.  

But there can be an upside: You may discover an entirely new way forward to a better outcome if only you are allowed to use some of the outcomes and conclusions which are "off the beaten path" or even on a path formerly denied.

Some even go so far as to say that new process emanates from what can be seen in the penumbra of the main process and methods. If so, you might say that penumbra emanations are tantamount to an emergent outcome.

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