Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Are you sinking? Or sunk?

Let's keep the basics in front of us:
  • Projects are transformative processes packaged together
  • Inputs (cash, people, buildings and tools, overhead like training) are transformed into deliverables that don't remotely look and feel like the inputs
  • Deliverables are much more valuable than the sum of the inputs
Too often, the focus of the 'business' is on the inputs being consumed, like cash-flow and resources consumed, whereas the more experienced among us keep an eye on input/output efficiency.

And what do we mean by I/O efficiency?
We mean how well input consumption corresponds to its planned value, and how well the corresponding outputs conform to (planned) expectations, when each is sampled--measured--observed in the same time period.

What about sinking and sunk?
Once the project grabs input and consumes it, that input is "sunk", and can't be changed or refunded
Most of us are familiar with the first law of 'sunk' resources: 'Don't use the sunk resource to make a decision about a sinking project". 

Those focused on the sunk resources are focused on inputs rather than outcomes; are focused on the rearview mirror rather than the windshield, and may not understand the opportunity for adjustments.

That is: the future of your project--if it has one--should stand on its own merits re how resources will be used in the future, not so much how they were used in the past.

Why this first law?
Because at the moment you are challenged--even a self-challenge--to justify your future by citing the past, that is the time to root cause analyze the efficiencies. Depending on the analysis, you will have an opportunity to make decisions to alter the likely future efficiencies, and you have the opportunity to 're-baseline'

The future may not "wash-rinse-repeat" what has already been sunk.

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